Safety, Health and Injury Management and Wellbeing

Use of asthma first aid kits

Our role is to develop and assist in the implementation of the UWA safety, health and wellbeing programs in order to minimise the risk of injury, illness and property damage.

We provide consultancy and other services to promote best practice and legislative compliance in all University and related activities.

Further information

Asthma is Australia's most widespread chronic health problem, affecting more than two million Australians.

  1. Availability of asthma first aid kits
  2. Contents of kits
  3. Responsibilities
  4. How to assess an asthma attack
  5. How to use the asthma first aid kit
  6. What to do next
  7. Maintenance of kits

Availability of asthma first aid kits

Asthma first aid kits are available at the following location at UWA:

Back to top

Contents of kits

Each asthma first aid kit contains:

  • a blue reliever (Ventolin)
  • a spacer – a chamber designed to hold the spray
  • a set of instructions for use.

Back to top


In assessing situations where the use of an asthma first aid kit is appropriate, the following must be taken into account:

  • Asthma kits are to be kept under the supervision and care of a trained first aid officer.
  • The asthma kits are to be used ONLY on persons with breathing difficulties who request that the kit be made available.
  • It is recommended that all persons requiring the asthma first aid kits be advised to seek medical attention. Severe attacks might require urgent medical attention, including calling ambulance services.
  • The kit must be regularly maintained.

Back to top

How to assess an asthma attack

Mild attack

  • Cough
  • Soft wheeze
  • Minor difficulty breathing
  • No difficulty speaking in sentences.

Moderate attack

  • Persistent cough
  • Loud wheeze
  • Obvious difficulty breathing
  • Able to speak in short sentences only.

Severe attack

  • Very distressed and anxious
  • Gasping for breath
  • Unable to speak more than a few words in one breath
  • Pale and sweaty
  • May have blue lips.

Back to top

How to use the asthma first aid kit

  1. Seat the asthmatic upright, remain calm and provide reassurance. Do not leave the asthmatic unattended.
  2. Remove cap from the blue reliever puffer.
  3. Hold puffer upright and shake it.
  4. Push the two halves of the spacer together until they click, making sure the arrows are lined up.
  5. Attach the puffer mouthpiece to the end of the spacer.
  6. Place spacer mouthpiece in the asthmatic's mouth.
  7. Press down on the puffer to release one puff into the spacer and ask the asthmatic to breathe in and out through the spacer for four breaths. Repeat three more times until a total of four puffs have been given.
  8. Remove puffer from spacer and replace cap.

No harm is likely to result from giving a blue reliever puffer to someone without asthma.

Back to top

What to do next

  • Record the medication given.
  • Assist with notifying family, friends and others as required.
  • If the spacer has been used, separate the halves, wash them in warm soapy water. Do not rinse. Allow them to dry naturally – leave them to drip-dry. Volumatic spacers are NOT dishwasher safe.
  • If the puffer has been used, without the spacer, the puffer needs to be washed.

Back to top

Maintenance of kits

It is important that the asthma first aid kits should be checked and cleaned regularly. The blue reliever must be within the use-by-date.

Check the valve in the mouthpiece is working – as you gently shake the spacer, the valve should rattle. If its doesn't rattle, it may need cleaning or replacing.

Back to top