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What is a first-aider?

A first-aider is someone who has undertaken training appropriate to the circumstances. They must hold a valid certificate of competence in either:

  • first aid at work
  • emergency first aid at work
  • any other level of training or qualification that is appropriate to the circumstances

Employers can use the findings of their first-aid needs assessment to decide the appropriate level to which first-aiders should be trained.

  • Emergency first aid at work (EFAW) training enables a first-aider to give emergency first aid to someone who is injured or becomes ill while at work.
  • First aid at work training includes the EFAW syllabus and also equips the first-aider to apply first aid to a range of specific injuries and illness.

To help keep their basic skills up to date, it is strongly recommended that first-aiders undertake annual refresher training.

Certificates for the purposes of first aid at work last for three years. Before their certificates expire, first-aiders will need to undertake a requalification course as appropriate, to obtain another three-year certificate. Once certificates have expired the first aider is no longer considered to be competent to act as a workplace first aider.

How many first-aiders does an employer need?

In Alberta the occupational health and safety code determines how many first aiders and medical supplies are required. Consult your local OHS for information as they may be different in each.

 

Can legal action be taken against first-aiders in Canada?

Good Samaritan laws offer legal protection to people who give reasonable assistance to those who are, or who they believe to be, injured, ill, in peril, or otherwise incapacitated.[1] The protection is intended to reduce bystanders’ hesitation to assist, for fear of being sued or prosecuted for unintentional injury or wrongful death.

In Canada, good Samaritan acts fall under provincial jurisdiction. Each province has its own act, such as Ontario[6] and British Columbia’s[7] respective Good Samaritan Acts, Alberta’s Emergency Medical Aid Act,[8] and Nova Scotia’s Volunteer Services Act[9] Only in Quebec, a civil law jurisdiction, does a person have a general duty to respond, as detailed in the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms.[10][11]

An example of a typical Canadian law is provided here, from Ontario’s Good Samaritan Act, 2001, section 2:

Protection from liability

2. (1) Despite the rules of common law, a person described in subsection (2) who voluntarily and without reasonable expectation of compensation or reward provides the services described in that subsection is not liable for damages that result from the person’s negligence in acting or failing to act while providing the services, unless it is established that the damages were caused by the gross negligence of the person. 2001, c. 2, s. 2 (1).[12]

Yukon and Nunavut do not have good Samaritan laws.

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