First aid is a term used to describe medical care given as a first response to medical emergency. First aid can also be used to mean any treatment given for a minor medical situation such as a small cut or bruise. Emergency first aid treatment can often be the difference between life and death for a victim and as such proper first aid training is critical to provide the proper skills necessary to render effective first aid treatment.
Emergency first aid generally includes performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) when a victim’s heart has stopped, mouth-to-mouth resuscitation when a person is not breathing, stopping severe bleeding, immobilizing a limb that may be injured or broken, treating a victim for shock, and clearing the airway of someone whose airway is obstructed. If left untreated or if treated incorrectly, all of the above medical situations could lead to death or severe injury to the victim.
In fact, it is estimated that in the United States alone, 220,000 people suffer from cardiac arrest each year. Once cardiac arrest has begun, every minute that elapses reduces a victim’s chances of survival by approximately ten percent. Performing CPR can keep a person alive in the critical minutes between the time cardiac arrest begins and when emergency personnel arrive. A person who is suffering from severe bleeding may lose his or her life in just a few minutes if the bleeding is not stopped.
Individuals interested in first aid training have a variety of options to choose from. In many countries, perhaps the most popular and widely accessible first aid training classes can be found through a local chapter of the Red Cross for a nominal fee. The Red Cross offers live classes that allow a student to receive hands-on training in a classroom environment and the Red Cross also offers online training programs. Once a course is completed, a person is considered certified in that area for a period of one to three years depending on the course.
In the United States, local chapters of the American Heart Association may also offer CPR training, tools and materials for individuals, the workplace and for schools. In addition to the Red Cross and Heart Association, many other organizations offer first aid and CPR training. Some companies even offer basic first aid and CPR training for free, with a small cost associated only if a student requests proof of certification. First aid training providers can be found using a search engine on the Internet.
In recognition of the fact that many medical emergencies occur in the workplace, many companies are now offering basic first aid and CPR classes to their employees. Employees should see if they have access to first aid training classes through their company. If a company does not currently offer first aid training, it is recommended that employees check with their supervisor or human resources department to see if the company would be willing to provide or subsidize a first aid training program.
Lastly, while it is recommended that anyone interested in basic first aid and CPR attend a training class or enroll in an on-line course; basic first aid guidebooks may also be helpful for those desiring basic information. The important factor to consider is the age of the first aid materials, since first aid techniques may change as new methods are proven to be more effective.