First aid and COVID-19 recommendations

The basic principle underlying the first aid guidelines is that the safety of the first aider is paramount. Uncertainty as a result of the coronavirus outbreak has naturally prompted questions about the safe provision of first aid. This is understandable, as this situation is new to everyone and requires us all to make adjustments. The Orange Cross hopes that the following answers will bring clarity and eliminate concern.

Physical contact during first aid

With respect to COVID-19, being alert to danger means avoiding becoming infected yourself. Therefore, in all situations, assess whether it’s necessary to come within 1.5 metres of the victim. If this is not necessary, provide assistance at a distance by giving instructions that enable the victim to help themselves. If necessary, call 112.

If it is necessary to come closer to the victim than the 1.5 metre recommended distance, then restrict yourself to performing life-saving actions.

 

Protective gloves

When providing first aid, wear gloves as much as possible to protect yourself and the victim. Please note: vinyl gloves do not provide protection against microorganisms!

 

Rescue breathing during CPR

The Orange Cross follows the NRR (Dutch Reanimation Council) guidelines (in Dutch), which are as follows:

  • If the victim is an adult without clear or proven infection, then provide only chest compressions without mouth-to-mouth rescue breathing.
  • If the victim is COVID-19 positive or is strongly suspected to be, do not give chest compressions or rescue breathing. In this case, only an AED may be used.
  • CPR for children remains unchanged, including rescue breathing and chest compressions.

 

Wash your hands before any form of physical contact

As is standard when providing first aid, wash your hands where possible before making physical contact. This Zorg voor Beter video gives clear instructions on how to wash your hands effectively.

 

Division of tasks for multiple first aiders

If more than one first aider is present, divide the tasks. Have someone who has already recovered from the coronavirus or is in perfect health perform the tasks requiring physical contact. People above 50 years of age are advised to keep at a distance at all times. Other first aiders can perform hands-off tasks such as calling for assistance and keeping onlookers at a distance.

 

After providing first aid

As soon as possible after providing first aid, hands should be washed thoroughly for at least 20 seconds. If it is allowed, disinfect your hands in a present ambulance. After helping someone infected by the virus, avoid contact with others for the first 2 weeks until it is sure you are not infected yourself or when recovered fully. Call a GP if you have a high fever or difficulty breathing.