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First Aid for Students and Staff

General first aid procedures for staff and students

Apply basic first aid with DRSABCD:

  • Danger — always check for any danger to you, any bystanders and then the injured student. Staff should not put themselves in danger when assisting an injured or sick student
  • Response — check if the student is conscious by seeing if they will respond when you talk to them, touch their hand or squeeze their shoulder
  • Send for help — call 000
  • Airway — check the student’s airway is clear and they are breathing
  • Breathing — check for breathing (look for chest movements, listen for air coming through the student’s mouth or nose or feel for breathing by placing a hand on the lower part of the student’s chest)
  • CPR by trained staff — if the student is unconscious and not breathing, apply CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation)
  • Defibrillator — if the student is unconscious and not breathing, apply an automated external defibrillator (AED) if one is available if trained to do so. Some AEDs are not suitable for children so ensure the device is checked for suitability.

Important note: Staff must only apply first aid in line with their skills and level of training.

Further information is available on the First aid basics and DRSABCD website (Better Health Channel).

Where there is a medical emergency

Staff must take emergency action without waiting for parent or carer consent. Delays in these circumstances could compromise safety. Staff must:

  • immediately contact emergency medical services (call 000)
  • apply first aid until assistance arrives
  • notify parents or carers once action has been taken
  • notify the Department’s Incident Support and Operations Centre (ISOC) on 1800 126 126 and make an IRIS alert.

Use of ice packs

When using an ice pack to treat a minor injury for staff or students, such as a bump or bruise do not apply the ice pack directly to skin and remove it if pain or discomfort occurs. Use a cold compress (towel or cloth rinsed in cold water) as an alternative.

Do not use an ice pack when an injury causes a nose bleed, a cold compress can be used instead

Do not use an ice pack and (or) cold compress in the following circumstances, seek medical help or call an ambulance: 

  • loss of consciousness, even if only briefly
  • a less than alert conscious state
  • suspicion of a fracture
  • suspicion of a spinal injury
  • damage to eyes or ears
  • penetration of the skin
  • deep open wounds.

Where a student is feeling unwell

Unwell students should not attend school. If a child feels unwell at school, schools must contact the student’s family (ensure emergency contact details are up to date) and/or seek medical assistance.

Where there is an identified health care need

First aid for students with identified health care needs must be explained in their Student Health Support Plan, Anaphylaxis Management Plan or Asthma Care Plan, or relevant health care plan. Refer to Health Care Needs.

When students have a not-for-resuscitation order (NFR) as part of their palliative care to manage a deteriorating and life threatening condition, the first aid response must be documented in the Student Health Support Plan (which should include detail of when an ambulance should be called).

It is not the role of the school and staff to make a decision about medical prognosis or to determine whether the point of the not-for-resuscitation order has been reached.

Where there is a head injury and suspected concussion

Following a head injury or knock to the head, children and adolescents may be more susceptible to concussion and take longer to recover. The Concussion Recognition Tool 5  (that should be available in the first aid kit) can be used to assist identification of suspected concussion. It is not designed to diagnose concussion.

Red flags — call an ambulance

If there is concern after a head injury and if any of the following signs are observed or reported, first aid must be administered and an ambulance should be called for urgent medical assessment:

- neck pain or tenderness
- double vision
- weakness or tingling/burning in arms or legs
- severe or increasing headache
- seizure or convulsion
- loss of consciousness
- deteriorating conscious state
- vomiting
- increasingly restless, agitated or combative

Observable signs — take appropriate action

If there are no red flags but signs and symptoms suggest concussion as listed in the Concussion Recognition Tool 5 (that should be available in the first aid kit):

  • the student must be immediately removed from play or sport and not engage in further activity (for example, returning to a sporting game)

  • make contact with parents or carers as per below

Make contact with parents and carers

Whenever the Concussion Recognition Tool 5 is used to assist with the identification of a suspected concussion, parents and carers must always be contacted and the following actions taken:

  • if concussion is suspected:
    • the school must contact the parent or carer and ask the parent or carer to collect the student from school and recommend a medical assessment, even if the symptoms resolve
  • if concussion is not suspected:
    • the parent or carer should be contacted and informed of the injury and told that a concussion is not suspected based on use of the Concussion Recognition Tool 5  
    • the parent or carer may wish to collect the student from school.  

Following a confirmed concussion, schools may need to make reasonable adjustments, guided by the student’s treating team, including:

  • return to learning and return to sport plans
  • modifying school programs to include more regular breaks, rests and increased time to complete tasks.

For more information, visit Royal Children's Hospital Head injury — general advice and Royal Children's Hospital Head Injury — Return to school and sport.

Chapter in First Aid for Students and Staff Guidelines covering general first aid procedures, including ice pack use and responding to medical emergencies like head injuries and suspected concussion

Reviewed 19 January 2021

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