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Extra first aid training for student nurses


First aid and management of serious incidents such as road accidents is to be formally taught to trainee nurses, as new pre-registration standards are published.

Nurses, who are expected to know first-aid principles already, will now be given more training on it than what was previously required.

The new standards have been drawn up in collaboration with the British Red Cross and St John Ambulance charities.

More prominence is being given to first aid skills, and “incident management” will be taught to trainees for the first time.

Garth Long, who led the review of pre-registration standards at the Nursing and Midwifery Council, said the public expects nurses to cope in crises.

He said universities will still be able to decide how first aid is taught.

Mr Long went on: “Incident management is also now included, which is how you would organise yourself if there was an incident like a car accident.

“This includes questions like: Who is injured? Who is the priority? Who needs my care first? What do I need to do? And who do I need to call?”

He said the council is not saying that nurses are sent out to attend incidents but rather that nurses can be better prepared to deal with emergencies.

Nurses are confident when working in a properly equipped hospital ward, so the new standards are said to be intended to cover their ability to cope in other situations.

Mr Long said: “This is more about public expectation.”


Readers' comments (10)

  • I think this is a wonderful idea. I work as a School Nurse and have to do a First Aid Course every three years.
    Working in a hospital with all machines and staff around to help is totally different to coming across an emergency out of the hospital setting.
    I am sure the skills learnt will also benefit the nurses working within hospitals as well.

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  • I think this is an excellent idea. It is about time more of the pre reg course was actually given over to topics such as this. We are medical personell after all and SHOULD be able to attend an emergency if required.

    We had a very short skill lab on a similar theme (1 hour long and that was it) when I did my training, on these principles. But it concentrated mostly on situational awareness and who to call (an ambulance, shocker!) But very little time was given on what to actually DO medically for the patient in an emergency, it was simply expected that we should go away and learn this ourselves. If this is about to change, and students will learn what to do if they see someone stabbed, or choke, or run over, etc etc etc, from an A&P and skills perspective as well, then I applaud it. I won't hold my breath however.

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  • About time - great idea! I've worked in pre-hospital for 30 years and have been horrified when nurses have pushed themselves to the front of an accident, stating that they're a nurse, yet not having a clue what to do. Not their fault - they're just not trained to work outside of a hospital without the safety net of nice sterile equipment and supplies within arms' reach. Fortunately, most pre-hospital workers recognise this, although it's made my job harder at times - being told that I can't possibly know what I'm doing because I'm just a nurse! Don't just give the nurses training though - let them spend some time with people who do the job on a daily basis so they have a clear understanding of the problems involved in a pre-hospital setting.

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  • This is to be most welcomed, albeit about 20 years overdue. My only concern is that universities will 'interpret' how first aid is taught differently.

    First aid accreditation [or at least BLS] should also be a compulsory component of renewing NMC registration.

    Mike Paynter

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  • I think that this is a great idea. Too many members of the public assume that nurses know just what to do at accidents and it puts nurses in awkward positions.

    Learning first aid not only gives them some of the basic skills needed but also teaches how to take control of a situation, delegate, improvise if necessary but above all gives them confidence to act in situations that are not within the normal scope of their work. It is very different dealing with an incident away from the hospital setting and all the equipment that is on hand.

    I believe that all nurses ought to do at least a very basic first first aid course every 3 years and ideally an annual update as other workplaces do.

    I also agree with Mike that first aid accreditation should be a compulsory part of NMC registration.

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  • While I suspect most people would BLS training for nurses, I would suggest that the NMC look to the existing experts in incident management for help in developing these learning outcomes, rather than the voluntary agencies so as to maximise credibility.

    There are 15,000 (approx) paramedics out there managing emergency incidents on a daily basis and about 20 universities teaching new paramedic students these skills. Im sure paramedics would be very happy to be involved if asked.

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  • Totally in agreement with the above poster.

    The Red Cross, St John's WTF?

    And it's nothing to do with being in a hospital or having lot's of equipment to hand that prevents nurses from giving effective and safe pre hospital treatment. It's the fact that next to no time its spent teaching much that is relevant to it.
    Nurses would be the last group I'd want to give assistance to anyone in a RTC unless they were working in ITU/A&E.
    BLS - yeah we do that.

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  • Craig Burley

    Anonymous | 25-Sep-2010 10:38 am
    Anonymous | 24-Sep-2010 12:44 pm

    Without knocking down SRP, I suggest you look into what the BRC (British Red Cross) & SJAB (St Johns Ambulance Brigade) actually do,

    They cover a majority of Public events, gaining lots of knowledge in Motorbike scrambles, Car Races (both short circuit and longer) Horse events, Concerts, Football and Rugby matches (covering the players and spectators dependant on the level of play) not to mention a lot of other smaller events.
    Due to this the training is exemplary. For a start they are actually taught how to bandage for a start, something a lot of nurses have to pick up on the job, hence the fact they are falling of with 2hours - I've seen it.
    Certainly the Training that the BRC teach for their own volunteers includes spilling a lot of fake blood about, using pumps to recreate arterial bleeds- all in the essence to make it as realistic as possible.


    35yr old Male 5'8" with learning disabilities falls down a steam engine service pit. widthways apx 4'5" wide 3' deep. he hits his shoulder and side of head on the other edge on the way down, knocking himself out. lying concertina in the bottom of this service pit, snoring, he is also lying in the storm drain at the bottom, with his mouth half full of water. Being a nurse with 18 months post grad ward experience didn't help me save his life, 8 years of volunteering as a first aider did. Airway secured, C spine secured, Trauma Boarded and in the back of a County Ambulance (hadn't been called, when we arrived on scene) within 30mins of receiving the call.

    A Nurse at an unexpected emergency outside of the hospital setting needs to do 3 things:
    Preserve Life
    Prevent Worsening
    Promote Recovery
    Until the relevant statuary services arrive

    This is First Aid, not paramedics

    Don't knock them, you may be grateful for the BRC / SJAB first aiders or North of the Scottish border St Andrews Ambulance Association at some point.

    But I have to agree Nurses don't generally make good first aiders both due to lack or training & lack of equipment.

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  • I have to agree with the above post, I have been a member of St John for many years and we have excellant training. We have a number of First Aid at Work trainers, nurses, paramedics and doctors holding training sessions we also have the opportunity to practice these skills for real at public events. These skills are not possible to practice in a hospital environment, it is good to know the theory but until you have done it for real you will not know your strengths and weaknesses

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  • My universities take on first aid was to encourage us to buy the red cross/st johns first aid book and fill out a booklet of questions. It was never looked at and the "online test" promised in the first semester never appeared.

    I would actually push that the NMC dictate stricter rules on basic first aid than they currently do. The public expect us to know this stuff. With the current lack of cohesion in teaching between institutions I cant help but feel that we are being left ill educated in "the basics"

    I have since joined the red cross as a volunteer to be trained properly. I say that nursing education be standardised. It is a joke that each university has its own version of nurse training.

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