Infection Control

There is a risk of cross-infection as diseases can pass between the casualty and first aider and between casualties.

It is therefore a requirement of the first aider to take reasonable precautions to prevent cross-infection.

It is essential that as a first aider, you approach all situations involving body fluids: saliva, vomit, blood, urine, and faeces, etc. as potentially infectious, by adopting appropriate precautions to protect yourself.

Precautions to be taken:

  • Wash your hands before and after treatment.
  • Use disposable gloves (PPE) when treating a casualty.
  • Change gloves before treating a different casualty.
  • Use protective aprons and eye protection where available.
  • Cover any open cuts with waterproof dressings.
  • Wash off any body fluids immediately.
  • Dispose of used gloves and contaminated waste correctly.
  • Wash re-usable equipment in an anti-bacterial solution.
  • Use protective masks with one-way valve or a face shield when performing rescue breathing.

Personal Protective Equipment

Personal protective equipment (PPE) is any form of equipment used to minimise the risk of cross contamination. This may include but is not limited to:

  • Face masks or masks with a one-way valve
  • Gloves
  • Goggles or eye protection

Minimum Hygiene Requirements for Resuscitation

Remember:

To protect yourself:

  • Frequently wash your hands or use a sanitiser gel. Avoid touching your mouth, nose or eyes. If your hands come into contact with bodily fluids or become soiled, IMMEDIATELY wash using warm soapy water or use an alcohol based hand sanitiser.

To protect others:

  • Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze with either a tissue or a bent elbow. If you use a tissue, or a bare hand, IMMEDIATELY dispose of the tissue and then wash your hands or use an alcohol based hand sanitiser.

Disposal of Contaminated Materials

Minor dressings such as adhesive strips should be disposed of by placing them in a plastic bag and disposing of them in your normal household waste collection bin.

Major spills however should be dealt with by placing all disposable contaminated items into a leak proof container, such as a large heavy-duty plastic bag clearly labelled ‘Infectious Waste’. These should then be disposed of through an approved infectious waste disposal system.

Needles and sharps should be disposed of safely in accordance with local, state, territory, and commonwealth authorities.

Soiled clothes that have not been ruined should first be rinsed in cold water then washed or cleaned as normal.  Commercial laundries should have their own policies and procedures in place for their staff to follow for managing blood-stained items.

After a first aid incident a first aider should ensure that all contaminated items are gathered and disposed of correctly, ensure that the area is cleaned and sanitised then wash their hands thoroughly or use hand sanitiser.