Should I give a medication to someone who asks for it? Should I help a person to take their medications? Should I keep extra medications in my first aid kit just in case? These questions are some of the more prominent questions we are asked in class as we instruct First Aid students on how to help with Medications during a First Aid situation.
To shed some light on Medication use in First Aid scenarios & according to the Alberta Occupational Health & Safety regulations First Aid attendants have very specific guidelines on what they can and should not do with Medications in First Aid.
To make this easy “In Alberta” First Aiders are “NOT Allowed” to diagnose, prescribe or administer “Give” any medication. However they are allowed to “Assist” individuals with their “own” prescribed medication if the casualty identifies the medication on their own & is able to take it without assistance.
What does this mean about giving medications in an emergency? Simply put “you CAN Assist” but “you can NOT Give“. The victim must take the medications on their own and be of sound enough mind to understand the risks. This includes all over the counter medications and above counter medications.
To Assist With Medications:
- The ill or injured person must be conscious and able to understand the risks involved with taking a medication & be able to take it themselves “Self Administration“
- The First Aiders Assistance should be limited to preparing the medication for the victim, this is restricted to but includes oral & auto-injected medications.
- The victim should be certain that nothing will interfere or react negatively with the medication and should follow the written instructions on the label / device.
- The Five Rights of Medications are met:
- Right Person – If it is a prescribed medication the names match the person taking it on the label.
- Right Medication – Use the appropriate medication for the situation “Read the Label”
- Right Amount – Follow directions on the bottle / device or package on how much the victim should receive
- Right Time – Help the victim “Before they hit the Floor“, the victim must be conscious and able to understand how to use medications.
- Right Method – There are only 4 ways a medication can get into your body “Injected / Inhaled / Ingested or Absorbed” Read the Label & follow the Directions carefully.
For medications in first aid kits just remember that medications are subject to the individual’s needs. This means that stocking a first aid kit with medications is not advised as each person has different requirements on medications and they should only take those that are prescribed for themselves or have the medication on them.
In any Emergency remember too:
Protect Yourself!!! Call 911!!! Don’t Waste Time!!!
Swoop in and give a Breath of Life, Let First Aid Training be your Saving Grace.