13 min read


First Aid On Farm

When an accident happens on farm. It’s rarely a mere scratch.

As we know, agriculture is one of the most dangerous industries. And when things go wrong, they go really wrong.

In 2022 there were 157 non-fatal injuries and 55 fatalities on Australian farms. How many first responders were trained in first aid? How much lower would these figures be if all responders were trained and armed with a suitable first-aid kit?

We know, It’s a lot of ‘what ifs', but imagine how many deaths, amputations or loss of income could have been prevented if everyone knew what to do in an emergency.

We’ll cover the importance of first aid on farm and what your first-aid kit should cover.


Why is first aid important on farms?

You don’t have to look further than Robyn Neilson to ask that question.

In 2002, Roybn was the first responder to her neighbour who had their arm caught in a post-hole digger.

Located on a cattle property in rural Queensland, it took The Royal Flying Doctors' Service two hours to arrive once the call was dispatched.

The neighbour’s life was in Robyn's hands for those two hours.

Robyn single-handedly kept her neighbour alive during that period. And is believed to be the sole reason why her neighbour is alive today. You can learn more about Robyn’s story with WorkSafe QLD.

While Robyn was previously a trained nurse with clinical training, she is a huge advocate for consistent first-aid training and accessible equipment.

Being on a rural property in the middle of woop-woop is isolating. When things go wrong, your neighbour is your closest asset. And in return, you’re theirs too.

But it’s not only first aid they need to know if you’re in and out of consciousness.

Besides emergency services, who else should they be contacting for you?

Do you have a landing strip on your property? Can they provide directions to emergency services?

If you do require immediate medical attention, is your neighbour capable of administering first aid or CPR?

These questions are important and without an answer, your life may hang in the balance.


How do you prepare for an emergency?

Start by setting up an emergency plan with your neighbour or workers. Create a printable or digital copy of your emergency information that can be shared with those around you.

This can include:

  • Emergency contacts

  • Important contacts

  • Your Neighbour's contact details

  • Location of the first-aid kit

  • Property location and directions for emergency services

  • Hazards on your property to be aware of

  • Location of landing strip or next safest place to land

  • Nearest medical facility

Consider utilising or creating an Emergency Card. FarmSafe Australia provides a free downloadable resource to fill out. At a glance, your first responder can provide your address, property directions and call important contacts.

Safe Ag System also provides a digital solution. Under Emergency Management, you’re able to call 000, list important contacts, add directions for emergency services and access the Health Actions Plans of the patient.

Do you also have an effective communication system in place? These can be two-way radios, mobile phones and the use of emergency beacons (EPIRB and PLB).

Ensuring all lone workers have a two-way radio or mobile phone on them at all times, saves time trying to find them if things go wrong. Take note of where they’re working, what route they took and what time they’re expected back.

Being aware and prepared before an incident occurs may just save a life.


What should my farms first-aid kit cover?

Unfortunately, the likelihood of an on-farm incident only needing a band-aid is slim. In extreme cases, you may be face-to-face with the loss of limbs, burns or broken bones. And blood, lots of blood.

A common first-aid kit will not cover most injuries sustained on farms. When purchasing or creating your first-aid kit, ensure it covers the following:

  • Snake and spider bites

  • Sprains, cuts, burns and broken or crushed bones

  • Electrocution

  • Drowning or asphyxiation

  • Eye injuries

  • Amputation or crush of limbs in unguarded machinery

There are multiple pre-made first-aid kits for agriculture online to buy or GrainGrowers provides a brilliant list of what should be inside of yours.

But while the equipment is important, it's useless without a trained hand to utilise it.


How do you administer CPR?

Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) is a life-saving skill to have. It circulates oxygen and blood flow within the body. Keeping your brain and vital organs alive.

This is done by actioning DRSABCD. No, I didn’t just slam on the keyboard.

It's a real acronym for a very important action plan when assessing for CPR.

But what does it mean?

Danger, Response, Send for help, Airway, Breathing, CPR, Defibrillation.

The action plan was designed to guide first-aiders during an emergency. A clever way to remember it is 'DRS ABCD'.

  • Check for danger - Ensure you and your patient aren’t in a dangerous area that could put you at risk

  • Any response? - Is your patient responding to you shouting their name or squeezing their hand?

  • Send for help - Ring 000 yourself or ask someone else at the scene to make the call

  • Airway - You’re preparing for CPR. Check your patient's mouth, throat and nose for any blockages (blood, vomit, food). Remove these blockages from the airways

  • Breathing - See if breathing has resumed. If so, place them on their side in a recovery position. If they have not started to breath after 10 seconds, start CPR

  • CPR - Start chest compressions and mouth-to-mouth

  • Defibrillation - If available, use an Automated External Defibrillator (AED). Follow its instructions

Being trained in first aid is more than being handed a certificate. It's having the knowledge and power to save lives.

First aid courses are accessible all around Australia and some providers may conduct group training at your property on request.

But it doesn’t stop there. There’s nothing worse than studying and practising, only to get stage fright and forget your training the moment you’re called upon.

Put your training into practice and keep your first aid certificate current.

Keep safe, keep farming by ensuring you and your farm are prepared for the worst. Take the time to create an emergency plan, notify neighbours and train your team in first aid.

It may end up saving your life.


Image supplied by Rescue Swag, Australia's toughest first aid kit.


Topics: Safety Management System

Disclaimer: Content on this website may be of relevance to users outside of Australia, but content links and examples are specific to Australia. Please check with your local authority for your country and industry requirements.


Originally published 29 November, 2023.

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