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13th July 2017

What’s the latest on First Aid for events?

The Lighthouse H&S advice line receives many calls this time of year from clients who are planning outdoor events, summer parties and BBQ’s for customers and staff.

One common question asked is in relation to first aid cover for such events.

Sources of advice

The previous source of guidance on events first aid was the Event Safety Guide. It included detailed information to help your decision-making process, including a delightfully simple calculation for the number of first aid personnel to put on duty. The guide suggested a minimum number of first aiders of two per 1,000 attendees unless your numbers went above 3,000, at which point it became more complicated. These numbers were based on an estimate that 1%-2% of an audience will seek medical assistance per event day, on average.

What now?

The HSE’s guide has been replaced by a new industry-led website. The Purple Guide, as it’s called, is a subscription product. This site contains pages of advice on event safety management covering all sorts of scenarios from lost children to fireworks. As expected, medical assistance is included but unfortunately, the advice on the numbers of first aiders is missing.

Note. A year’s access to the site for one user costs £25. It’s worthwhile if you’re running large events as it contains best practice, and the information isn’t available elsewhere.

What does it say on first aid?

The Guide recommends that every event should have a first aid post or unit, i.e. somewhere staff and guests can go to obtain first aid and basic life support.

You need to think about privacy for anyone receiving first aid, have sufficient equipment, trained staff, communications channels for calling the emergency services and pre-planned routes for ambulances. These basic concepts always apply to all sizes of event.


It should be noted however that some of the advice provided goes well beyond the minimum legal requirements, including a suggestion that there should be an automated external defibrillator available. Whilst this may well be a worthwhile consideration, it isn’t a mandatory legal requirement and therefore for smaller, low-risk events following the guide is not compulsory.

If you decide to appoint an outside organisation such as St. John Ambulance to support your event with first aid cover, they will be your best source of advice regarding how many first aiders and the level of facilities etc. you require.




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