It should be no surprise that the 100% Online First Aid course took off during the COVID-19 pandemic. Government-directed lockdowns and the need to social distance from one another attracted individuals and businesses to seek alternative ways to remain compliant with first aid standards and regulations.
Not immune to the effects that lockdowns and mandatory social distancing have on a business, First aid providers needed to find a way to keep operating through a period where students were not allowed to attend class; and presto, the idea of a 100% online first aid course gained momentum.
The 100% Online First Aid course accidentally received acceptance and unwarranted endorsement when organisations such as WorkSafe and industry regulators (rightfully) maintained their insistence on compliance with first aid standards and regulations within the workplace. After all, the COVID-19 pandemic was not the time to let the life-saving skills and knowledge taught in a first-aid course erode away.
Businesses throughout Australia received correspondence from their industry advisory bodies or industry regulators informing them that, regardless of the COVID-19 pandemic, compliance with first aid regulations that require a workforce or individuals within the workplace to hold a current and valid first aid certificate remains in force; however, what many businesses and employers missed amongst these updates was that any first aid course completed must continue to meet the required criteria and standards for delivery and assessment to be deemed compliant with industry standards. For a course to be compliant, students needed to participate and be assessed in the practical elements and components of a first aid course.
While it is technically possible to deliver and assess practical skills and knowledge online, providing that the RTO has the right resources and equipment, many organisations and small businesses reported that their online first aid courses involved little or no practical activities, no demonstrations of how to perform CPR, and no demonstration of any other practical elements of first aid, and in some cases, their staff never underwent a practical assessment.
POI: It might interest you that Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) were never given permission or told by their regulator that their obligation to meet the Performance Evidence of a first aid course can be waived or replaced with an online component. During the COVID-19 pandemic, RTOs were encouraged and guided on how to apply ‘reasonable adjustments’ to their practical assessments but needed to maintain the quality of their delivery and assessment outcomes against the first aid course criteria.
What are the problems with 100% Online first aid courses?
Enrolling your team, a staff member, or an individual into a 100% online first aid course or a course that can be completed within a few short hours can have devastating effects on your business and the health and safety of the first-aider, and on the casualty. By now, we hope that people are aware that in any emergency or first aid situation, regardless if the outcome of the incident was positive or negative, the incident itself will be scrutinised by health and safety officers, WorkSafe, and if you are very unlucky, emergency services investigators and lawyers. When this happens, employers and staff find themselves in a position where they need to justify their decisions.
The issue with a first aid course that is 100% online, or a first aid course that can be completed in a few short hours, is the training and assessment provided to students are found to be inadequate upon investigation. While it is true that the theoretical aspects of first aid training could be reasonably covered through online training and activities, other more practical aspects, in particular, demonstrating and observing the performance of effective CPR, or the use of an AED on a manikin, or even the process involved with bandaging or supporting a casualty with head or spinal injuries are much more challenging.
Any first aid training provider that does not effectively demonstrate first aid techniques and allow students to practice these skills using proper equipment such as manikins, trainer AEDs, Asthma puffers, and trainer Epipen’s to name a few, is not meeting their obligations as a training provider or their requirements under the first aid course criteria.
You can view the entire course criteria here: https://training.gov.au/Training/Details/HLTAID011
Other common flaws consistently showing up with a first aid course that can be completed 100% online are:
Students retain less information
- Many students cannot absorb and assimilate the main takeaways of the content due to the lack of participation from students in the course.
- Difficulties arise when students cannot ask questions, receive verbal instructions or obtain immediate instructor feedback.
- Online courses can create student/trainer misunderstandings, which lead to misinterpretation in a real-world implementation.
Students feel isolated or can skip important information
- Studies show that the feeling of isolation is a huge stressor for students leading to lower retention of information.
- Organisations, employers, and even RTOs have reported that online students tend to skip vital information or presentations; instead, they opt to move straight to the online assessment.
Boring User Experience
- Online learners must be engaged to get the most out of the course. A 100% online course does not allow students to interact or truly immerse themselves in the subject.
What should you be looking for in a first aid course/provider?
Picking the right course and first aid provider will depend on your individual circumstances. However, here are a few things you may want to consider:
The Volume of Learning.
A 100% Online First Aid course that can be completed in a few hours does not have the desired outcome intended by the first aid certification. Remember, the idea behind updating your CPR annually and your first aid certificate every three years is that you build on your existing muscle memory, skills and knowledge. You will rely on muscle memory to support and assist a casualty if required to spring into action.
POI: It may interest some people to know that the people who wrote the criteria for the HLTAID009 Provide CPR course (annual refresher) allowed up to 4 hours of delivery and assessment for this unit to be taught. 18 hours were allocated for the HLTAID011 Provide First Aid course.
What information is available to you before you enrol?
Before enrolling in a course we recommend spending 10 minutes of your time reading through the RTOs course information page. RTOs have marketing standards that must be adhered to, which are set out by the RTOs regulator. In addition, the RTO you choose to use must provide students with clear, easy-to-find information on the following items before asking a student to enrol in a course.
RTO Name and Code | Duration | Price | Student Support
- The RTO name and (TOID) code needs to be easily identifiable. Make sure that the first aid provider you are considering is a Registered Training Organisation (RTO) and not just a small business delivering the first aid course.
While it is not uncommon for an individual trainer or small business to deliver a first aid course under the name of an RTO, it must warrant additional consideration. For example:
- Are the training material and assessments reviewed and approved by the RTO? An excellent way to check this is by visiting the real (actual) RTOs website. On the actual RTOs website, you should easily find information on the third-party provider claiming to train and assess under their name.
- Are the equipment and resources used on the course current, safe for use, and in line with RTO standards? Again, this information should be available on the RTOs website
- Is the learning environment safe for students? It is a condition of any RTO or its third-party provider to ensure that the training facilities are fit for purpose. As a guide, most RTOs only use facilities that are class 9B compliant.
- Who is responsible for the quality of delivery, student support, and issuing the certificate? For example, who will take responsibility if the training provided to you is not 100% correct or sufficiently covers the course’s intended criteria? As mentioned above, the actual RTOs website should contain information on how the responsibilities are shared between the third-party provider and the RTO.
- Duration of the course. An RTO must inform you of the time investment needed to complete the course. This should include face-to-face class time, online activities, and pre-course work.
- Price. Before enrolling in the course, you must be aware of the total cost of enrolment and finally;
- What type of support is available to you during and after the course.
About Our First Aid Courses
At Intelligent Training Solutions, we pride ourselves on our student-focused experience, quality, and compliance with the course’s criteria and industry standards. We are proud to offer you a blended delivery first aid course using the best parts of an online learning environment and a face-to-face classroom.
In our blended delivery first aid courses, we teach you the non-life-threatening theory content of our first aid course through our online platform using video as the primary teaching method. Our practical training is conducted face-to-face in a classroom. Here we teach you all the practical and life-saving activities of a first aid course.
Our highly experienced teachers (all qualified nurses) deliver our courses in a fun and energetic way, focusing on making the content transferrable to a real-world application.
We understand that there is a need for a balance between work and study. Deliver a first aid course too quickly, and you compromise on quality and compliance, not to mention creating first aiders with zero confidence to assist when needed. On the other end of the scale, not everybody has time to participate in an 18-hour course.