The UK’s contentious but long-awaited move to get rid of all Covid-19 restrictions – in February for England and Northern Ireland, and March for Scotland and Wales – is set to bring hope to millions that the worst of the pandemic is finally behind them. But with hospitals and emergency services more likely to be in demand as more people return to their daily lives whilst a pandemic continues to threaten public health, first aid training may have become more important than ever.
Although the omicron variant of Covid-19 has been found to be milder than many previous incarnations of the virus, we’re still seeing a relatively large number of hospitalisations occurring across the United Kingdom.
Above, we can see that the number of people in intensive care is far lower than previous spikes, but with 11,532 in hospital as of the 21st Feb 2022, there’s plenty of evidence that medical services are likely to be stretched further than usual as restrictions are lifted.
As BBC data shows, as the omicron variant first began to emerge in late 2021, the response times for emergency services for category one calls – referring to cardiac arrest and patients not breathing – slipped beyond its 7-minute target.
The removal of self-isolation rules for those infected with Covid-19 highlights the UK government’s intentions of treating the virus as a mild illness – but it also means that more people are likely to become infected over the coming months, which raises the chances of more severe cases occurring.
Fortunately, organisations and individuals alike across the UK are waking up to the importance of first aid training, and we’re seeing more innovative solutions in helping to provide immediate care to those suffering from a sharp or severe illness.
The rise of virtual first aid
The pandemic has had a significant impact on digital transformation, and more businesses than ever are embracing online services and adapting their offerings to more digital user bases. Thanks to Marcel Green, first aid training has also been capable of blooming in an online environment, too.
Based in Canberra, Australia, first aid trainer Green launched First Aid Online after witnessing the necessity for a nationally accredited first aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) course during lockdown.
When students register with the course online, Green will then mail out the essential equipment – including adult and child-sized inflatable mannequins, a practice EpiPen, and dummy asthma inhalers, as well as bandages and slings to use at home or office environments.
Once students complete their training modules, Green then conducts a 45-minute (CPR), or 75-minute (first-aid) practical assessment via a Zoom conference call.
“From start to finish, the whole course is online, so there’s no need for people to travel and sit in a class all day with a bunch of people they don’t know,” Green said. “Students can complete the modules at their own pace, in their own time and they don’t have to leave their house or workplace to attend.
“You book online, complete your training and test online, then attend a short Zoom conference call to obtain your qualification.”
In the UK, organisations like St John Ambulance has also made improvements to their online modules and currently offers first aid requalification courses that can be partly completed online.
Accelerating first aid awareness
There’s also evidence that the necessity of first aid training and materials is being acknowledged in the post-pandemic era.
For instance, in Glasgow, more than 25 teachers at King’s Park Secondary School have become qualified in life-saving techniques after embarking on a range of first aid courses. The school has also added a defibrillator machine on-site to help ensure the safety of everyone on the premises.
Elsewhere across the city, we’ve seen organisations like Glasgow First Aid Courses secure partnerships with companies like East Ayrshire Council, Renfrewshire Council, East Renfrewshire Council, Aldi, and Rangers FC to help deliver essential training to people who could be in a position to save a life in the future.
Although the easing of lockdown restrictions will invariably lead to more strain on public health services in the near future, it may serve as a catalyst to help individuals and businesses wake up to the life-saving potential of first aid training.