In this article, our Chief Instructor Mark Brown discusses how to ensure a course is COVID secure. Mark has extensive infection control experience and was a CBRN expert and trainer within the military.
With COVID 19 having now killed over 100,000 people in the UK alone, it's safe to say that it is a threat that must be taken seriously. But that doesn't mean that it's not possible to hold a course in a COVID-secure way. Comera Medical Training has been providing training throughout the pandemic to key clients who require it, and we have done so safely and securely. Here's how:
If you fail to plan you plan to fail and this is especially true where the threat is invisible. We carry out a robust risk assessment to fully understand the risks that may be present in any training. This is reviewed regularly and supplemented with dynamic risk assessment throughout the course.
Where we are training at a client's premises, we send them a pre-delivery checklist to ensure that their facilities are suitable in terms of room size, one way systems, cleaning and PPE.
Clean, Clean, Clean
COVID-19 can survive for up to 72 hours on plastic and steel surfaces. This means that it's vital to ensure that everything is properly cleaned. Before and after a course, we strip and clean all equipment and make a record of this to ensure it doesn't get missed. We also take additional measures, for example replacing the lungs in our manikins, which can not be easily cleaned. We also clean the room both before and after the course, and ensure we have extra time to do this thoroughly.
We provide wipes for disinfection throughout the course. We ensure that all of our wipes and disinfectant are safe, skin friendly and used by the NHS. My personal preference are Clinell wipes, which are recognised worldwide and are effective against the Coronavirus within 30 seconds.
Carry Out Pre-Course Screening
One of the most dangerous things about COVID-19 is that you might not know you have it. To manage this risk, Comera carry out pre-screening on entry to our courses. We ask a number of screening questions and carry out non invasive temperature testing. To ensure accuracy, we offer an option to re-test if the first recording is high.
Inform Your Students
It's important to remember that, even if you're an expert on infection control, your students probably aren't. To help your students stay safe, it's vital to provide them with the right information. At Comera, we provide thorough Joining instructions, which include our COVID safety approach. We also hold a safety brief, where we cover all aspects of safety and even demonstrate correct use of PPE and handwashing. We retain a gentle control of COVID safety throughout the course, staying alert to any potential breaches.
Provide Extra Kit
Your kit can be a key vector for the transmission of COVID-19. This is especially true in first aid courses, where students will need to repeatedly handle kit. During courses, we always try to issue one piece of equipment per person. There may be some cases where this is not possible and, where this is the case, we take measures to keep kit sharing to a minimum and and ensure there is a maximum focus on decontamination.
It is also always a good idea to have extra PPE on hand in case a student loses or damages theirs. A lack of PPE can mean an inability to participate in the course and spares can mean the difference between a successful course and a crisis.
Be Mindful Of Your Students' Needs
Preparedness should not take a one-size-fits-all approach and you should touch base with your students to assess their individual needs and make reasonable adjustments prior to the start of the course. This should include managing people's anxieties around the virus which, given the seriousness of the pandemic and the negative effects it has had on people's mental wellbeing, should not be underestimated. With proper attention, however, you should be able to ensure that all are comfortable with attending and that assessments can still be completed without anxiety.
Mean What You Say
Finally, make sure to translate plans into action. A well-written COVID preparedness policy means very little if you don't actually implement it. I am proud of the way in which everyone at Comera has been thorough and upheld our safety ethos at all times. while doing so in a friendly and controlled manner. I've found that this approach works and helps us to keep ourselves and our clients safe.