Covid-19 first aid guidance

Covid-19 and first aid

During this difficult time people may be more unsure about stepping forward and helping others, mostly as they are concerned about physical contact. Here are some helpful tips on how to make it as safe as possible.

First Aid out in the community

Most first aid is very simple and the steps to take in an emergency can be described or explained to an injured or ill person so they can help themselves. For example, if they are bleeding heavily, you can ask them to apply pressure to the wound while you call 999. If the person can help themselves then it is important to maintain social distancing.

If you do need to help an individual who you are concerned may have an infection, wherever possible encourage others who are not involved in helping to maintain social distance from the individual. 

If someone is so badly injured or ill that they are unable to help themselves, it is even more important we step in and try to help if safe to do so. For example, not helping someone who is not responsive or not breathing will dramatically reduce their chance of survival and the risks to the first aider are low, especially if good hygiene practices are followed.

Wear a face mask if available, plus gloves and an apron if these are available too.

Wash your hands after any contact with someone.

Following current government advice around handwashing is known to reduce the risk of infection. Wash your hands with soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds or use hand sanitiser gel if water is not available.

Checking for breathing during Covid-19

When checking if a person is breathing do not listen or feel for breathing by placing your ear and cheek close to the person's mouth. Look for a rise and fall of their chest or stomach and normal breathing. If you are unsure, assume they are not breathing. Continue with first aid key actions.

Up to date information from the Resuscitation Council UK can be found here

Up to date information for first aiders from Public Health England can be found here.

*If you fall into one of the identified Covid-19 risk groups additional caution should be taken.

2. Call 999 if you see these symptoms.

They need urgent medical assistance because an allergic reaction can affect someone very quickly, and is potentially very serious. The reaction may cause swelling of their airway, causing them to stop breathing.

3. If they have a known allergy, use their auto-injector.

If someone has a known allergy, they may have been prescribed an auto-injector. Follow the guidance on the packaging.

4. Reassure them and make them as comfortable as possible while you wait for the ambulance.

Tell the ambulance crew if the auto-injector has been used.

Watch how to help someone who is having a severe allergic reaction (2 minutes 8 seconds)

Common questions about first aid for someone who is having a severe allergic reaction

What kinds of food can cause allergic reactions?


How will I know if it is a severe allergic reaction?


What is anaphylaxis?


Should I use their auto-injector for them?


How do I use an auto-injector?


Can I use an auto-injector on a child with a known allergy if they have a severe allergic reaction?


What should I do if the person becomes unresponsive and stops breathing?


How can I get an insect sting out of someone’s skin?


 

What kinds of food can cause allergic reactions?

The most common foods that can cause allergic reactions are:

  • nuts
  • shellfish
  • dairy products
  • eggs.

Allergic reactions can also be caused by:

  • latex
  • bee and wasp stings
  • certain medications.

Back to questions

 

How will I know if it is a severe allergic reaction?

The person may have mild allergies, resulting in itchy skin and eyes. If they have a severe allergic reaction, they might also have symptoms such as swelling of their tongue or neck and difficulty breathing.

Call 999 if you see these symptoms.

Back to questions

 

What is anaphylaxis?

Anaphylaxis (also called anaphylactic shock) is a severe allergic reaction that makes it difficult for a person to breathe.

If a doctor identifies someone as being at risk of anaphylactic shock, they may give them an auto-injector. An auto-injector contains medication that helps to ease the symptoms in an emergency.

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Should I use their auto-injector for them?

If the person has an auto-injector, you can help them use it or do it yourself, following the guidance on the injector.

Back to questions

 

How do I use an auto-injector?

The auto-injector will have instructions on the side of its packaging which you should follow.

Give the auto-injector you used to the ambulance crew when they arrive.

Back to questions

 

Can I use an auto-injector on a child with a known allergy if they have a severe allergic reaction?

Yes. If the child has an auto-injector, you can give them an auto-injection following the guidance on the packaging.

Back to questions

 

What should I do if the person becomes unresponsive and stops breathing?

Find out:

Back to questions

 

How can I get an insect sting out of someone’s skin?

If the sting is still in the skin, brush or scrape it off sideways with your fingernail or a credit card.

After the sting has been removed, apply something cold to the area (such as an ice pack) to minimise the pain and swelling.

Be aware that this may not reduce the risk of an allergic reaction for someone with a severe allergy.

Back to questions

 

Email us if you have any other questions about first aid for someone who is having a severe allergic reaction.