FAQs first aid

Keep everyone safe at your next event by following this guidance from the British Red Cross...

Is there a legal requirement to have a first aider present at every PTA event?

Event organisers have a duty of care to everybody attending, but do not have to provide medical cover. They are, however, legally bound to this duty of care and to keep people safe. So, where there is even a minimal risk of injury, they need to ensure that they have taken the necessary steps to respond to potential incidents.

How do we decide how many first aiders we need?

A ‘needs assessment’ should be carried out before any event goes ahead. This should consider a range of factors such as the number of people attending, what time of year it is, what activities are taking place (for example, a high-contact sport is likely to produce more injuries than a bingo event), previous casualty rates and how close the event is to an A&E department. First aid can, and does, save lives, and your level of provision should be adequate and appropriate to your circumstances. Think about the nature of your activities and how hazardous they are, the type of people who will be attending (do any have known medical conditions?) and the size of your event. For more information on needs assessments, visit the Health & Safety Executive website. If your needs assessment exercise indicates that you need a first aider, you should ensure they have undertaken suitable training, have an appropriate first aid qualification and remain competent to perform their role.

When planning our event, are there specific health risks we should consider?

The industry has moved away from a ‘checklist’ take on events to a more holistic approach to explore whether an event is safe or not. If organising large-scale music and similar events, we would recommend reading The Purple Guide, designed to help event organisers manage health and safety. Look at all hazards and risks involved, and seek to remove or mitigate them. The British Red Cross offers expertise in planning events to make sure that participants stay safe.

Should we pay to train PTA members in first aid?

If your needs assessment exercise indicates that you need a first aider you should ensure they have undertaken suitable training, have an appropriate first aid qualification and remain competent to perform their role. There is now greater emphasis on UK teachers receiving training to help pupils with long-term health conditions. The British Red Cross offers first aid training specifically designed for teachers and staff who work in a school environment. You can choose an approved course for nominated first aiders or a certified course for teachers. The British Red Cross offers an online first aid course finder. This will help you assess your first aid training requirements and find the right course quickly and easily.

We have over 400 people attend our fairs – should we pay for external first aiders?

It all boils down to the question: ‘Do you feel that your event is safe?’. We would urge you to look at what risks and dangers there are for people attending your fair, what type of audience will be attending, and what activities they will be taking part in, among other considerations. Speak to the British Red Cross to get advice about your event, as first aid is the one thing that you never want to worry about going wrong on the day.

What equipment do first aiders need?

In a school setting, you need a fully-stocked first aid kit designed with children in mind, which complies with HSE guidance. This might include:

  • Wash-proof plasters
  • Sterile gauze swabs
  • Microporous tape
  • Sterile eye pads
  • Sterile dressings
  • Scissors
  • Gloves
  • Safety pins
  • Icepacks
  • Finger bandages
  • Thermometer
  • Disposable tweezers
  • Triangular bandages
  • Alcohol-free antiseptic wipes.

Knowing how to use a first aid kit is just as important as having one. All kits should contain a guidance leaflet specifically for the treatment of infants and children. Ensure that expiry dates are checked frequently.

If an event is outdoors then have blankets available. You should also make sure that first aiders are contactable and identifiable - high-vis jackets and mobile phones may help. Use a designated room for first aid, giving privacy to those being treated. If your needs assessment suggests you require external support, organisations such as the British Red Cross can help. Their first aiders are insured, DBS checked and trained to national standards, including the use of resuscitation and defibrillators. They use the same secure systems that the police, ambulance and fire services use, so if necessary, can communicate with the emergency services swiftly on their network.

  • The British Red Cross is the world’s largest provider of first aid. It provides first aid cover at events throughout the UK. It has been delivering first aid courses for more than 30 years, and is the only UK training organisation to offer a free online support programme to keep you updated after completion of your course. Visit redcross.org.uk to see the training and courses on offer.

The above is intended as guidance only. We recommend that you contact the relevant organisations with specific reference to insurance, legal, health and safety and child protection requirements. Community Inspired Ltd cannot be held responsible for any decisions or actions taken by a PTA, based on the guidance provided.