As a centre operator, childcare first aid is something that is going to be required. If not today then tomorrow or the day after, and probably again next week too; twice on Wednesday. It is a function of running an operation and having children in your care. This is especially true when you embrace ideas like risky play which we discussed recently in this blog.
An incident requiring childcare first aid is not going to rely on only one person responding. How you as the operator prepare in advance and cover the requirements will affect the outcome. The aim of being prepared is to make this easier on yourself, your staff, the children, and their parents. Some of the things you need to think of are more obvious than the others. Many you will have in place already, some you may not. It is not just about policies, procedures and practicalities; it is also about culture and how things just happen. Let’s look at each of those.
Childcare first aid Policies and Procedures
Dealing with the very important but possibly boring-sounding stuff first are your policies and procedures. These are more than just boring pieces of paper sitting in folders on shelves in the manager’s office. Especially the first aid policy, because in a childcare setting your staff will need to be able to act to an incident in the moment. They will not have time to go to the office to browse the policies.
Your policies need to be detailed about how to respond. Whoever in your team responds first to an incident needs to know how to tell someone else and get the other parts of the response, like calling an ambulance, happening.
That’s important because your staff are not medically trained nor required to give medical treatment. First aid is about taking steps in those first few minutes after an injury or accident, however serious, to ensure the child or children or staff are safe from further harm or risk of worse injury.
Paramedics should be called immediately if your team considers them necessary, even if based on the first information available. Don’t wait for five minutes, or, for more information, or, see if things get better. If someone believes, based on their training and your policies, an ambulance is needed then it’s needed. Let the paramedics make the medical decision about further care.
The risks of a trip and fall resulting in a grazed knee is almost certain and your team should know how to respond. The risk of having a child in your care with anaphylaxis is less likely but much more serious, and your staff should know how to respond. We’ll discuss that more in training below.
You will know the risks in your centre; both the risks the centre has in it's design and how you use the space as well as the risks the children in your care will have.
First aid kits need to be accessible, visible, stocked up and used when needed. Like your other health and safety obligations such as fire blankets, extinguishers; when they’re needed they’re needed now! If you have a child who has an anaphylactic reaction to certain foods or items, your team needs to know where their EpiPen is as they’ll need it now!
Having the kits, supplies, plans and training in place in order to respond effectively in the moment takes planning and training. We’ll discuss that more below.
Training, Resources and References
The National Regulations outline the mandatory requirements for services in relation to first aid qualifications, anaphylaxis management training and emergency asthma management training. National Regulations fall under the National Quality Framework (NQF) which operates under an applied law system, comprising the Education and Care Services National Law and the Education and Care Services National Regulations. More information is available from ACECQA at https://www.acecqa.gov.au/nqf/national-law-regulations/national-law
Below is a summary of the different requirements for centres and family daycare:
The approved provider of a centre-based service must ensure that the following qualified people are at all times in attendance at any place children are being educated and cared for by the service and immediately available in an emergency:
- at least one staff member or one nominated supervisor of the service who holds a current approved first aid qualification
- at least one staff member or one nominated supervisor of the service who has undertaken current approved anaphylaxis management training
- at least one staff member or one nominated supervisor of the service who has undertaken current approved emergency asthma management training.
Services must have staff with current approved qualifications on duty at all times and immediately available in an emergency. One staff member may hold one or more of the qualifications. More detail at https://www.acecqa.gov.au/qualifications/requirements/first-aid-qualifications-training.
Family Day Care Services
The approved provider of a family day care service must ensure that each family day care educator and family day care educator assistant engaged by or registered with the service:
- holds a current approved first aid qualification
- has undertaken current approved anaphylaxis management training
- has undertaken current approved emergency asthma management training.
Each family day care educator and educator assistant must hold all three qualifications. More detail at https://www.acecqa.gov.au/qualifications/requirements/first-aid-qualifications-training.
Information on first aid qualifications, anaphylaxis management training and asthma management training can be found in regulation 136 Part 4.4 – page 96 https://www.acecqa.gov.au/sites/default/files/2018-01/NQF-Resource-02-Guide-to-ECS-Law-Regs.pdf.
WH&S and National Standards
Other considerations may also exist under Workplace Health and Safety laws in your state, as well as national training standards.
Safe Work Australia details the model laws surrounding first aid, which impose health and safety duties in relation to first aid. You can find details of those duties in the Model Code of Practice: First Aid in the Workplace.
Finally, Training.gov.au is the source for National Register on Vocational Education and Training (VET) in Australia, the unit of competency details for providing first aid are at https://training.gov.au/training/details/hltaid003
The culture at your centre and amongst your staff is where your policies, procedures and planning become real. When your staff call an ambulance, they need to know it is the right thing to do. They need to know it is okay to do without second-guessing themselves, even if it turns out it was not needed. Confidence needs to be in advance that it’s ok with you as a leader, the expectation of the care you give a child and the expectation of the parents in your centre. They don’t need to not second guess themselves. That’s culture. The policy and procedure can say that, but culture helps your team feel and know that and provide the best childcare first aid in those first few moments.
What It All Means
First Aid for Child Care and providing emergency first aid care in a centre can be anything from a splinter or a grazed knee, to, an asthma attack or anaphylactic reaction. Being prepared and having systems, policies and culture in place that put the children and their safety, your parents, your staff and your community first will mean that whatever situation occurs your staff will respond how any parent would respond themselves and the safety of your children will never be compromised.
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