As a first aider it is important to have a good understanding of infection control. Infection control is an important for two reasons:
- To protect yourself! Remember you are the most important person (think back to the incident management unit)
- To protect the patient
Why the fuss?
Various diseases can be transmitted via blood and body fluids including HIV and Hepatitis B & C. Risk of infection can be reduced by following infection control precautions.
Infection control steps for first aiders
Hand hygiene: Wash your hands with soap and water whenever possible. Ensure any cuts/open injuries to your hands are covered with waterproof plasters or dressings. Keep nails short if possible.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): Always wear disposable latex or nitrile gloves when there is a risk of coming into contact with bodily fluids. However this is not always practical so in an emergency you can improvise and use anything to create a barrier. e.g: a plastic carrier bag
Clinical waste: “Clinical waste” is waste which is contaminated with bodily fluids (for example a bloody dressing). This should be disposed of appropriately and not placed in general waste/rubbish. Normally this will involve being sealed in a separate bag and taken for incineration. You should always inform the ambulance crew of any clinical waste so it can be disposed of appropriately. Any used sharps should be placed in a sharps bin
Video: A complete guide to handwashing
Hand Hygiene resources
For more information on Hand Hygiene in infection control check out the World Health Organisation's website