Any would-be childcare worker or educator knows that dealing with unintentional injuries and accidents come with the territory, so to speak. Despite one’s best efforts to prevent such situations, a child can still get hurt under your watch, so it’s always best to be prepared. Below are the 5 most essential first aid skills that every childcare worker should familiarize themselves on:
CPR for children
Cardiopulmonary resuscitation is a fundamental first aid skill that combines chest compressions and artificial ventilation. Its main goal is to restore the flow of oxygenated blood to preserve brain function, delay tissue death, and prevent permanent brain damage.It can be useful in many applications, including cardiac arrest and instances of drowning.
Children are much more likely to require CPR as a result of a blocked airway than adults. This is due to a number of physical risk factors, as well as a tendency to put foreign objects in their mouths that could result in airway obstruction.
In Australia, Education and Care Services National Regulations require all centre-based childcare services to have at least one staff member or supervisor to possess nationally-recognised first aid qualifications, and that these qualifications are kept current. Those who already possess the necessary certifications can refresh their knowledge and skills through first aid express training courses.
Basic wound care
Children are prone to wounds, scrapes, and scratches, especially during active play. Childcare workers should know how to properly manage these minor injuries to prevent infection, minimise scars, and promote healing.
Wound care for children includes cleaning the abrasion or skin laceration, controlling any bleeding, and applying a clean and dry dressing. Workers should wash their hands before touching any open wound to prevent the spread of germs and minimize the risk of wound infection. If the wound is deep and requires staples or stitches, emergency services should be called right away.
Basic first aid for burns
Many children don’t yet possess the knowledge or awareness that would deter them from touching something hot and accidentally burning themselves. They can also incur sunburns from unprotected extended exposure to the sun’s harsh UV rays.
Childcare workers should know how to protect their charges from burn injuries, as well as how to intervene in the event of one. Keep any hot objects out of reach of children at all times, and make sure that the children are adequately covered for sun exposure with sunblock and protective clothing. Any burns or scalding should be treated with cool or lukewarm running water immediately and kept clean and dry.
Emergency soft tissue injury management
In addition to wounds and abrasions, children can also be prone to strains, sprains, and fall injuries as a result of active play. Childcare workers should be able to assess and accurately identify any soft tissue injuriesthat a child incurs while under their supervision, as well as provide the appropriate interventions to alleviate pain and discomfort and prevent further injury.
A sprain refers to a ligament injury while a strain refers to a muscle or tendon injury. Both can cause severe pain, redness and swelling, as well as limited movement and mobility of the affected limb. A childcare worker should know the initial injury treatments for both, summed up in the acronym RICE: Rest the injured area, Ice the affected part of the limb, Compress the affected area and make sure it stays Elevated.
First aid for asthma
According to the Australian Institute of Health & Welfare, around 2.7 million Australians or 11% of the total population have asthma, making it one of the most common chronic health conditions in the entire country. From a 2019 report, the AIHW found that of the 38,792 hospitalisations due to asthma between 2017 and 2018, about 44% were for children 14 years old and younger.
In addition to familiarizing themselves with their charges’ asthma action plans, childcare workers are also expected to know how to identify and manage severe asthma flare-ups or attacks. Any child experiencing a flare-up should be helped into a comfortable sitting position and assisted with his or her medication. Emergency assistance should be called immediately if the child shows no improvement or if his or her symptoms worsen.
Working with children can be a challenging career path to undertake, but there are few professions more personally rewarding. Learn these first aid skills by heart and you should be well on your way to being a competent childcare worker!