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First aid in times of Corona 

November 9, 2020

Even in times of Corona, first aid must be provided when people suddenly need life-saving care.   The assessment and treatment of such patients should not be delayed for fear of COVID-19.   The Federal Physician of the DRK-Landesverband Niedersachsen e. V. and the DRK-Kreisverband Göttingen-Northeim e. V. reacted quickly and published information and recommendations for action, which we also use at Sycor.  

Therefore I decided to write this article. I am Rebeca López, working in the department "Personal & Digital Training" as an instructor for the life science industry. Furthermore, since 2004 I have been working voluntarily for the Red Cross in various areas - among other things as a first aid instructor.

ell informed = fast action

In order to be able to act just as quickly in times of Corona as in "normal" times, it makes sense to deal specifically with the measures for self-protection. Then you will be able to act quickly in an emergency and will not lose valuable time. At Sycor we have a detailed Back2Office-concept, in which hygiene and distance rules play an important role and also the recommendations for first aid in times of Corona are not missing - maybe this information, which I have collected in cooperation with Markus Schiffer from the DRK Göttingen, will help you too!

Helping with the right self protection

The first steps in helping are always around self-protection: only when I am safe can I act. When I arrive at the scene of an accident, I naturally first make sure that I do not put myself in danger. Other situations can also be a risk, for example, when machines are in use or the situation is confusing (stairs, in the kitchen, etc.).

Am I allowed to touch a strange person in need of help?

Of course! Everyone is still obliged to provide first aid. The Covid-19 pandemic brings with it an additional risk factor that we have to take into account in self-protection.

If the person in need of help has open wounds, I will wear gloves, as usual. In times of Covid-19 it is recommended to always have disposable gloves with you, as well as your own mouth and nose cover. Did you know that gloves and disinfectant wipes are available in all first-aid bags (car, company, sport)? The disinfection wipes are not intended for cleaning wounds, but for the hand hygiene of first aiders! Before and after a wound contact I will disinfect the hands with them as far as possible. This is also recommended before contact with immunocompromised persons.

How can I check my breathing without putting myself in danger?

If the person is no longer conscious, the first thing I do is to call for help loudly to make an emergency call. Then I take the mouth and nose protector out of my pocket and put it on. In the meantime I have gotten used to always having a mask in my handbag and in my bicycle bag, just in case. With this I try to reduce the danger of infection. 

How do I protect myself and the person in need of help if I have to put them in the stable lateral position?

If the person is able to breathe normally (2-3 breaths within 10 seconds), the stable lateral position is a life-saving measure and should therefore be used.

I walk sideways to the person and start with the "Hello cab, I want to sleep" technique. I make sure that I look to the side rather than directly into the face of the person. Also, because I am wearing a mouth-nose protection mask, I am already doing everything I can to protect myself.

The stable lateral position is a life-saving measure for unconscious persons who can breathe normally. Because I practice the technique again and again (and it is so easy to do), I will always use it!

Source: Knickmann, A. (2019). Einfach. Effektiv. Erste Hilfe. Das Handbuch für alle Rotkreuzkurse. DRK-Service GmbH, Berliner Str. 83, 13189 Berlin.

Source: Knickmann, A. (2019). Einfach. Effektiv. Erste Hilfe. Das Handbuch für alle Rotkreuzkurse. DRK-Service GmbH, Berliner Str. 83, 13189 Berlin.

Can I resuscitate an unconscious person without normal breathing?

Definitely! Otherwise, the person concerned has little chance of survival. That is why it is important to start with cardiopulmonary resuscitation as early as possible (if we do not do this, the chances of survival per minute decrease by 10%).

In general

  • If a defibrillator (AED device) is immediately available, it should be used immediately.
  • If a mouth and nose protector with air particle protection is available, I should put this mask on the affected person. Then I can start with cardiac pressure massage and ventilation.
  • If no mask is available, then start with cardiac pressure massage only.


Resuscitation should be limited to chest compressions without ventilation only in patients* with confirmed or suspected COVID-19. Self protection has priority!

In addition, hands should be washed or disinfected thoroughly with soap and water as soon as possible after resuscitation. Furthermore, I should inform the public health department (family doctor) that I have given first aid. They will then decide whether I need to take a COVID-19 test.

And what applies to the resuscitation of children?

The self-protection during resuscitation for children is the same as for adults. However, the technique is different and I recommend to attend a first aid course on the child to learn the procedure.

In general

  • Early emergency call before the start of resuscitation - and for other serious events (e.g. severe allergic reaction, wasp sting in the mouth, etc.).
  • In the case of non-cardiac origin (heart, circulation related), carry out respiratory donation in the knowledge that this will probably increase the risk of infection on the one hand, but can significantly improve the result on the other.  
  • Use of an AED in children with previous cardiac disease (cardiovascular) and in children older than 1 year of age, even if the non-cardiac cause is stoppage.
Source: Knickmann, A. (2019). Einfach. Effektiv. Erste Hilfe. Das Handbuch für alle Rotkreuzkurse. DRK-Service GmbH, Berliner Str. 83, 13189 Berlin.

Source: Knickmann, A. (2019). Einfach. Effektiv. Erste Hilfe. Das Handbuch für alle Rotkreuzkurse. DRK-Service GmbH, Berliner Str. 83, 13189 Berlin.

One last tip from me: When I have doubts, I always think about what measures should be taken if I were lying there. I will act accordingly. 

Please stay healthy, your Rebeca!

DRK instructor and first aid trainer at Sycor.

Our authors have very different professions and come from different areas and locations of Sycor. All write from their personal point of view and from their personal experiences.

Rebeca Lopez Galvis

Trainer Personal and Digital Training, SYCOR mbs GmbH