First Aid at Work Changes - 2013

From 1st October 2013 the Health & Safety Executive will no longer approve Training Providers to deliver the First Aid at Work (FAW) and Emergency First Aid at Work (EFAW) courses. 

Until this date the HSE had set rules and standards for Training Providers who sought Approval to deliver these important, benchmark First Aid courses.

There are now four possible routes Training Providers can follow to allow them to deliver these qualifications, so how do you choose?

How can Training Providers deliver the EFAW and FAW courses?

Membership of an Awarding Organisations

The vast majority of Training Providers will already subscribe to one of the Awarding Organisations (which must be recognised by Ofqual) to accredit their courses.  This route has an inherent Quality Assurance process built in; the Awarding Organisation sets standards for the Training Provider to operate at.

The Awarding Organisation will visit the Training Provider to ensure these standards are being met and also to observe the quality of the teaching. 

Membership of a First Aid Trade Body

Membership of a professional body alone (such as the Association of First Aiders or Federation of First Aid Training Organisations) does not have any Quality Assurance processes in place but the argument is that while Awarding Organisations have the expertise in education, Trade Bodies have the expertise in the subject matter.   Trade Bodies are often amongst the first to promote new standards and best practice and are, very often, quicker to respond to these changes than Awarding Organisations.

The Independent Training Provider

Independent Training Providers are now able to deliver both the EFAW and FAW courses with no membership to an Awarding or Professional body as long as they are able to demonstrate their capabilities and competencies as demonstrated by the Due Diligence procedure.

Voluntary Ambulance Service

Red Cross, St John Ambulance and St Andrew's First Aid will continue to provide training under their own brands without addition external accreditation or membership to Trade Bodies.

Which is best?

The HSE - very importantly - do no recommend or promote one route to deliver.  The onus is on the customer to satisfy themselves that their training provider is capable, credible and appropriate.

REAL First Aid Ltd is an Independent Provider of the FAW and EFAW courses.   We thought long and hard about which route to take and took the difficult decision to leave our FAW Awarding Organisation.

Being an Independent Provider allows us the flexibility to respond to the latest evidence-based research in pre-hospital care, the creativity to tailor our courses to the needs of our customers and the freedom to use engaging and effective teaching and assessment techniques.

Being Independent, we do not rely on anyone else's logo or reputation, as such, we have a responsibility to not simply meet the minimum standards, but to exceed them.

Exceeding Expectations

The Due Diligence procedure is explained at length in the HSE Guidance "Selecting a First Aid Provider" which suggests the following areas to examine:

Q 1. Do the trainers and assessors have a current FAW certificate or qualify for an exemption?

Yes.  Real First Aid Ltd do not allow any trainer to deliver at the same level as their highest qualification.   Despite guidance from the HSE stating the Trainer must have First Aid at Work as a minimum, Real First Aid insist on qualifications at least one level higher than that at which they are training:

  • First Person on Scene – Intermediate as a minimum
  • Combat Medical Technician 1 or 2
  • Ambulance Technician / Emergency Care Assistant
  • Registered Paramedic – ideally with relevant experience e.g. Offshore or Remote
  • RGN registered Nurse – ideally with relevant experience e.g. A&E or Paediatrics
  • GMC registered Doctor – ideally with relevant experience e.g. Emergency or travel medicine

Q2.  Do the trainers and assessors have an appropriate qualification?

Table 1 (below) provides guidance from the HSE of suitable qualifications for training and assessing:

FAW Quals 2.jpg

At Real First Aid, education has as much credence as technical expertise.  Being an expert does not mean you can teach it.

The HSE are satisfied that as long as the Trainers and Assessors have minimum qualifications  of First Aid at Work and a Teaching qualification which can be completed in three days, the trainer is competent to deliver the course.

At Real First Aid we exceed HSE expectations by only accept the following Teaching or Assessing qualifications:

  • An externally accredited course as opposed to an In-House ‘Train the Trainer’ course
  • At level 4 or above
  • A minimum of 7 days course duration
  • Including an element of observed teaching

Q3.  Is there a quality assurance system in place to monitor the quality of training?

The HSE state that:

"This ‘designated person’, who can be from inside or outside the organisation should be independent of training delivery and demonstrate competence for their role."

The crux of credible training is objective, external quality assurance.  An internal QA assessor can never be truly objective or impartial and neither can an external assessor who is paid by the organisation.  

Real First Aid rely on other mechanism to ensure and maintain our high standards, including:

  • a documented course evaluation procedure that includes feedback from students;
  • a documented complaints procedure;
  • a mechanism for retaining a detailed record of assessments for each student and store those records for a minimum of three years after completion of the course;

Q4.  Have training providers demonstrated that they work to accepted standards for training?

As well as credible trainers and assessors and robust and transparent Quality Assurance mechanisms in place we demand high standards elsewhere, for example:

  • Student to Teacher ratios are kept to 12:1 as a maximum and 6:1 where specific skills or exercises warrant it.
  • Each course is laden with high-quality equipment and time to familiarise and practice with.  With the exception of Defibrillation and medicines, all equipment is ‘live’ rather than training versions, kept to the same standard and condition as our operational equipment.
  • Whether you use our venues or we come to you, our basic requirement is a large training room for classroom activities.  You will find seating but no tables;  from EFAW to FPOS, the onus is on developing practical skills.  Students are encouraged to make notes which support the learning material provided, if needed, but there is no obligation to write anything down.  Ever.

Q5.  Is first aid taught in accordance with currently accepted first-aid practice?

  • Basic Life Support content in all of our courses are based on the current guidelines published by the United Kingdom Resuscitation Council
  • FAW and EFAW content is based largely on the current edition of the first-aid manual of the Voluntary Aid Societies (St John Ambulance, British Red Cross, St Andrew’s First Aid)
  • Additional content for Work or Environmental specific scenarios come from a range of sources including:
    • Royal College of Surgeons Faculty of Pre-Hospital Care Manual of Core Content
    • Joint Royal College Ambulance Liaison Committee Guidelines
    • Centre for Wilderness Safety and Wilderness medical Society wilderness medicine guidelines
    • Recently published medical articles

Q6.  Does the first-aid training course cover an appropriate syllabus?

In line the HSE's 2013 First Aid Guidelines our course include the following recommended content:

Candidates who successfully complete the EFAW course will be able to:

  • understand the role of the first-aider, including reference to:
  • the importance of preventing cross-infection;
  • the need for recording incidents and actions;
  • use of available equipment;
  • assess the situation and circumstances in order to act safely, promptly and effectively in an emergency;
  • administer first aid to a casualty who is unconscious (including seizure);
  • administer cardiopulmonary resuscitation;
  • administer first aid to a casualty who is choking;
  • administer first aid to a casualty who is wounded and bleeding;
  • administer first aid to a casualty who is suffering from shock;
  • provide appropriate first aid for minor injuries (including small cuts, grazes and bruises, minor burns and scalds, small splinters).

On completion of the FAW course, candidates will be able to:

  • Administer First Aid to a casualty with
    • injuries to bones, muscles and joints, including suspected spinal injuries;
    • chest injuries;
    • burns and scalds;
    • eye injuries;
    • sudden poisoning;
    • anaphylactic shock;
    • Recognise the presence of major illness and provide appropriate first aid (including heart attack, stroke, epilepsy, asthma, diabetes).

As well as any specific content required by the candidate or employer as identified in their First Aid needs Analysis

Q7.  Do certificates issued to students assessed as competent contain appropriate information?

All course certificate issued from Real First Aid clearly state:

  • the name of the training organisation
  • the name of the candidate;
  • the title of the qualification (eg FAW or EFAW);
  • an indication that the certificate has been issued for the purposes of complying with the requirements of the Health and Safety (First-Aid) Regulations 1981;
  • confirmation that the certificate is valid for three years;
  • the commencement date;
  • a statement that teaching was delivered in accordance with currently accepted first-aid practice
  • if the qualification is neither FAW nor EFAW (or the training contains additional elements), the certificate outlines the topics covered or the additional elements.

The full Real First Aid Ltd Due Diligence document, as well as all other policies are publicly available to view or download here.

Further Reading:  How to Choose a Training Provider