First aid training to continue during the Covid-19 pandemic

Many workplaces still need to remain open to ensure that key work and services can continue. Whilst current government advice is to work from home if you can, many businesses and industries are unable to do so. This means employers need to ensure that first aid provision is still available for those that can’t work from home should they have an accident or become ill. Health and Safety guidelines are there to protect everyone and can’t just be put on hold.

British Red Cross continue to provide essential training to help reduce the strain on the NHS and support vital industry sectors and employers (food retail, distribution, energy, schools for key workers etc).

As the situation continues to evolve, we are regularly reviewing government and industry guidance, venue availability and customer demand to ensure we are offering the best possible covid safe training offer.

Whilst training is available, employers should revisit their first aid needs assessment and consider their need for training in light of local government restrictions, the extension period for first aid certificates now offered by the HSE and the impact on their first aid provision as a whole. Find out more in our blog

Updated: 22 February 2021

What courses are currently available?

We continue to offer a range of essential workplace first aid and health and safety courses for those who are unable to work from home or are furloughed and completing training in readiness for their return to the workplace.

Face to face training:

Due to the practical nature of first aid, it is not possible to deliver training or assess learners remotely. Find out more about the measures in place to make training as safe as possible here

First aid at work (3 day)
Emergency first aid at work (1 day)
First aid at work requalification (2 day)
Paediatric first aid

Virtual training:

Some of our courses can now be delivered via an online virtual training room. Our trainers will host the session and ensure the training continues to be engaging and interactive. Ask for details
Fire marshal
Mental wellbeing

If you don’t see the course you need listed above, please contact our sales team by email rctsales@redcross.org.uk or call 0344 871 8000 to discuss your requirements.

Where can you train?

We have assessed each of the venues we use to ensure they are covid safe and the environment remains fit for purpose following any changes that needed to be made. This included making sure there was adequate space for social distancing, ample hand washing/sanitising stations, ventilation and opportunity for safe entry and exit paths for learners. Some of our venues didn’t pass the test and so are not currently in use.

Training locations continue to be available across the UK and we continue to monitor the evolving situation to ensure that the adaptations to our training delivery continue to offer the safest and best possible training experience for our learners, as well as meeting government and industry guidelines.

Visit our where we train page to find your nearest available training location.

We continue to offer training at your premises but will need you to complete a risk assessment to ensure we are able to deliver covid safe training; this assessment will look at things like room size, ability to social distance, ventilation and what Covid Safe measures are available at your location. Find out more in our blog >

If you have already booked training or have any questions about the venue or course, please email rctsales@redcross.org.uk or call 0344 871 8000

How do we ensure our training is Covid-19 safe?

We have introduced a whole host of measures and processes to ensure the safety of our learners and training team. These measures are continually being reviewed as new research and guidelines become available so please check this page for updates.

It goes without saying that we ask anyone who is unwell with symptoms of Covid-19 to not attend the course. If someone becomes ill during the course, we have robust processes in place to manage the situation and reduce the risk to other learners. A copy of these can be requested if required.

All the venues we use have been assessed to ensure they are covid safe. At some venues windows need to remain open slightly to increase ventilation and ensure we comply with the most up to date government recommendations. In the winter months keeping windows open can be challenging and we would advise that you turn up for your course wearing suitable clothing and are sufficiently layered up to help you stay warm.

Learners will be provided with fluid resistant surgical masks that meet the standards required for PPE. Everyone attending the course, including the trainer, must wear the mask provided at all times whilst on-site and throughout the course. Masks can be removed when eating and drinking whilst seated 2m apart, or when demonstrating rescue breaths for the purposes of assessment.

Seating has been arranged at 2 metres apart to allow social distancing on arrival and throughout the day. Learner numbers on courses have been reduced with most courses now running with 8 or fewer people.

Training and assessment

Wherever reasonably practical, social distancing is maintained, however, for some aspects of the training/assessment it is necessary to come into closer contact with another learner.

When contact is unavoidable such as for assessment, session length is kept to a minimum with us working within the close contact definition used by NHS Test and Trace. The number of these close contact sessions will vary depending on the content of the course they attend.

The HSE, Resuscitation Council (UK) and First Aid Quality Partnership (FAQP) have agreed that to accommodate the mandatory wearing of face coverings at all times the practice of rescue breaths may be temporarily suspended on adult only workplace first aid courses. This comes into effect from 22 February 2021.

We believe that combining rescue breaths with chest compressions is best practice when performing CPR on someone who is unresponsive and not breathing which requires learners to briefly remove their face masks to practice the skill and we continue to offer this option if delegates wish to participate in accordance with current HSE guidance.

We are confident the extensive safety and hygiene measures we have put in place mitigate risk however, we do recognise that some learners may not feel comfortable removing their mask to demonstrate rescue breaths in a classroom setting. If this is the case, they can choose not to practically demonstrate the rescue breaths*, and this will not affect the learner’s ability to pass the course or their certificate to be issued.

This position will be regularly reviewed by the HSE, Resus Council (UK) and FAQP as we continue to monitor transmission rates and government guidance.  For more information click here.

* Please be aware this option is not available for courses that include CPR on a baby and/or child, and learners must still demonstrate rescue breaths to pass the course. This also applies to emergency first aid at work-for working near water. The FAQP statement confirms the benefits of teaching rescue breaths to those who have a duty to provide first aid to these groups far outweighs the extremely small theoretical risk of transmission in the classroom whilst practising this skill.

Each learner has their own manikin for the duration of the course and we have introduced enhanced cleaning processes throughout. We encourage regular use of hand washing facilities and provide alcohol-based hand sanitisers in each training room for regular use.

Wearing of face coverings and masks in RCT face-to-face training

What is the difference between a face covering and a face mask?

Face coverings are made of cloth or other textiles. People are asked to wear them in public spaces such as supermarkets or when social distancing may not be possible, in some cases this is a legal requirement. Wearing a face covering helps to prevent virus particles spreading from the person wearing it to others. They provide very little protection to the person wearing them.

Face masks are classed as Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). They are usually a fluid resistant surgical masks such as those provided by Red Cross Training on first aid courses, but could also refer to a filtering face piece (FFP) such as a respiratory mask. These types of masks provide a level of protection to both the wearer and others around them.

Do learners have to wear a face covering or face mask?

Learners will be provided with fluid resistant surgical masks that meet the standards required for PPE. Everyone attending the course, including the trainer, must wear the mask provided at all times whilst on-site and throughout the course. Masks can be removed when eating and drinking whilst seated 2m apart.

These measures are in place to ensure your safety, the safety of other learners and our trainer. As we are unable to verify the effectiveness of individuals face coverings/masks we do ask that only the provided mask is worn.

What if I cannot wear the mask provided?

Whilst wearing a face mask at all times is not a legal requirement in this setting, having reviewed all the latest information, research and guidance available to us, we are confident that wearing them in this way gives the greatest level of protection to all those attending our courses. As a result, face masks are now a mandatory requirement on all our courses.

The safety of our learners and employees is of paramount importance, so it would not be acceptable to provide training (which, in parts, requires social distancing to be broken) without appropriate mitigations in place.

Unfortunately, we are not able to effectively assess learners against our assessment criteria without social distancing being broken, and as a result we must ere on the side of caution to ensure the greatest level of protection against the risk of transmission.

All of our policies will be reviewed on a regular basis in line with government and public health advice and other contributory factors which may impact the current decision.

This also complies with the advice provided for first aid training organisations by the First Aid Quality Partnership (FAQP) statement.

Do our courses include Covid-19 specific content?

Courses now routinely include information about how first aid can be performed safely during the current Covid-19 pandemic, following current guidance from Resuscitation Council (UK). Click here to read our blog, highlighting some of the additional first aid information that will be covered on first aid courses.

Do I still have to provide first aid cover during the Covid-19 pandemic?

The Health and Safety (first-aid) regulations 1981 explain that businesses should be carrying out a first aid needs assessment to determine what first aider provision and equipment is required. Most businesses will need to revisit the first aid needs assessment they had in place prior to the pandemic as it is likely the workplace, working processes and even the workforce within it have altered, e.g. some of the workforce may now be working from home, shielding or isolating.

You can find out more in our blog: Do employers need to review first aid provision in light of the Covid-19 outbreak

However, the HSE recognises that temporary arrangements may be necessary such as sharing provision with another business. Find out more in our blog or visit the HSE’s coronavirus page for more information.

How can first aiders protect themselves when using first aid during the Coronavirus outbreak?

Providing first aid to someone who is unresponsive and not breathing is crucial in making sure that they have the best chance of recovery. However, it is also important that you take measures to protect yourself during the Covid-19 pandemic. In order to reduce the potential risk of infection when giving first aid. Find out more in our blog >

What if my certificate is due to expire?

Although first aid training is now available from many suppliers there could be challenges with either access or availability to training for many employers. The HSE has recognised this and now states that ‘FAW or EFAW certificates that expired after 16 March 2020 can remain valid until 31 October 2020 or 6 months from date of expiry, whichever is later. All requalification training for these certificates should be completed by 31 March 2021.’

This extension isn’t automatic and employers need to be able to demonstrate they meet the criteria to be eligible for an extension. Full details can be found on the HSE coronavirus pages here.

How else can I get practical first aid advice during this period?

We have a number of resources available to help keep your first aid skills refreshed including:

*Please be aware that our online First Aid Annual Skills update course is not certified, but it can help you refresh your first aid knowledge

First aid for members of the public

We are temporarily not taking bookings for face to face public first aid training courses due to the ongoing Covid-19 situation. This specifically relates to our face to face courses for First aid for baby and child and First aid for adults. We will continue to monitor the situation and advise when our public courses will resume.

However, there are still many ways that members of the public can still learn first aid skills without attending a classroom-based course which are easily accessible.

Learn with apps

The free British Red Cross First Aid app and Baby and Child First Aid app can give you first aid at your fingertips. Both apps are packed with useful videos, animations and tips, plus first aid quizzes to test your knowledge.

Learn online

Learn via our first aid skills page for members of the public. with videos and simple steps for a wide range of scenarios. You can also attend one of our free digital workshops to learn essential first aid skills.

What can a first aider do to help during the Coronavirus outbreak?

If you have been trained in first aid you may be wondering how you can put your skills to use to support people in the community and whilst at work during the Coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak. Find out more in our blog >