First published in 2020
During pre-COVID times, if there was an emergency in a work situation, our reaction was governed by lessons learned early on in childhood: reaching for the nearest ‘responsible adult’ (usually a named first aid officer). However, when someone became unwell during a remote meeting I attended earlier this month, I had no idea what to do. Luckily, the person running the meeting stayed exceptionally calm and helped resolve the situation, so I thought I would share what I learned…
- Give them space
If using Zoom or Teams, the host should put all attendees except the person who is unwell into a breakout room; you can find out how to do this here for Zoom and here for Teams. If you are using a platform that doesn’t have this functionality, then all attendees except the host should leave the meeting and create a new meeting room with a new ID. The host of the meeting should stay with the individual who is unwell.
- Establish contact
Depending on whether the individual is responsive, you should assess the situation by engaging with them directly or try to establish contact with someone else who may be in the building. Reach out to your HR department who should have all employees’ emergency contact details.
- Seek help
The host should stay with the individual until a support plan has been agreed. If the individual is responsive, this can involve handing the individual over to the care of HR or another member of their household, or agreeing the individual will take the rest of the day off and you will check in on them the following morning. If an individual remains unresponsive after a period of time, the emergency services should be contacted.
- Update the group
Once the immediate danger has been resolved, the host can provide an update on the situation to the wider group for peace of mind, however they should not reveal any personal details about the unwell individual.
Lastly, the most important thing is to remain calm and treat the individual with respect. Plus, you should always reach out to the NHS via 111 if you are unsure on what to do.