Learning first aid can appear to be a complex process. Here are some common first aid questions and answers.
How can I learn first aid?
Many organisations run first aid courses for members of the public. Nearly every country has a Red Cross National Society who will often run subsidised (or even in some cases free) first aid sessions. Another large international charity is St John Ambulance who also run first aid courses.
When choosing a first aid course, make sure you choose a course which will provide you with the information you want. There are specialised courses for those who lead outdoor activities or look after children and babies (pediatric first aid courses). In addition, ensure the training provider is a reputable organisation with a good track record. First aid training is a lucrative market and there are some less honest companies out there.
Do I have to have a first aid certificate in order to give first aid?
No, unless the incident happens to a member of staff in the workplace (United Kingdom only). Generally, you do not need a first aid certificate to deliver first aid providing you are confident in your skills which you may have learnt by another method - friends/family/online etc. In addition, you don't need any training to call an ambulance and reassure/provide comfort before the ambulance arrives!
However, if the a member of staff is injured at work they should be treated by the duty first aider who possess a First Aid at Work qualification approved by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
What should a first aid kit contain?
Generally, a personal first aid kit (for home or the car) should contain the following:
- Disposable gloves (Nitrile or Vinyl)
- Wound dressings of assorted sizes
- Triangular bandages for making slings
- Plasters and adhesive dressings
- Support bandages for sprains/strains
- A face-shield for Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation
- Gauze and non-adhesive dressings
- Medical tape
- Antiseptic wipes
- Eye wash pods containing sterile saline solution
- Foil blanket
- Alcohol hand gel
- A torch, notebook and pen
- Scissors and tweezers
This is not an exhaustive list, but is a good start when building your kit.
How can I volunteer using my first aid skills?
In the UK, you can become a first aid volunteer with one of the three main first aid charities: The British Red Cross, St John Ambulance or St Andrew's First Aid (Scotland only). These organisations provide event first aid cover at a large number of events across the UK and are constantly recruiting volunteers.
In addition, some ambulance services recruit Community First Responders (CFRs) who are trained in basic life support and the use of defibrillators. These volunteers then respond to emergencies in their local communities.