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What is Advanced First Aid?

By Phil Shepley
Updated May 17, 2024
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Advanced first aid is a combination of training, techniques, and knowledge of equipment required to administer immediate care for a person who has been afflicted by any number of illnesses or injuries. While the term first aid can apply to the same characteristics, advanced first aid will typically require a higher level of training, as well as the use of more specialized equipment. In some instances, advanced first aid must be used on a person simply to prevent further complications from a problem until professionals can assist. Other situations, however, require immediate life-saving first aid techniques that, if not applied, will most certainly result in the death of the patient.

Advanced first aid encompasses all of the basic techniques and skills that are required for basic first aid knowledge. These skills involve the treatment of problems that involve the breathing, airway, and circulation of the patient, all of which involve his or her essential life functions that must be taken care of prior to less critical injuries. For instance, it is a priority that the breathing passage of a choking patient is cleared before anything else since breathing is an essential function for survival. Similarly, a deep wound that is bleeding heavily must be contained by the proper procedures, otherwise the patient can die from blood loss. Another tool of advanced first aid is cardiopulmonary resuscitation, or CPR, which is used on patients who have suffered from cardiac or respiratory arrest in order to attempt to revive them.

Advanced first aid training involves ways to treat patients when no equipment is available, by using surrounding resources and people. In an emergency situation, the affliction of the patient may require the person applying first aid to use cloth from a shirt to stop bleeding, ice to prevent swelling or even a steak knife to administer an emergency tracheotomy, for example. Most of the time, however, the people who are trained in advanced first aid will have access to an equipment kit.

An advanced first aid kit contains all of the essential equipment for aiding a patient who is in need of immediate medical attention from a wide array of medical problems, although some of these kits can be comprised of equipment for the aid of victims with a specific affliction. Basic items in a kit can include bandages, wound dressings, ice packs, antiseptic ointments, tweezers, pain relieving medications, latex gloves, first aid instructions and more. More advanced kits can include life-saving machinery such as defibrillators, devices that make instant plaster casts for severe bone breaks and fractures, syringes with specific life-saving drugs, and more.

Advanced equipment for first aid requires proper training. Many organizations, such as the Red Cross, offer courses for training in advanced first aid, which can last as little as several hours for certification. Other first aid techniques will require a degree from a higher institution of learning and can take several years to complete. These cover all of the necessary approaches to treating any number of patients who need immediate medical care in many different life-or-death situations.

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Discussion Comments

By pleonasm — On Oct 19, 2014

@Iluviaporos - A really good advanced first aid course will hopefully simulate some of the situations you might find yourself in. And I think people can extrapolate how they might react in an emergency from how they react in other situations.

Everyone has been in a situation where they've had a sudden jolt of adrenaline. And everyone has been in a situation where they've seen blood and had to deal with it. Even if it's just a friend cutting their finger while chopping vegetables.

You will act in a more extreme way in a more extreme situation, but if you are choosing to work in extreme situations presumably you will be surrounded by people who know what they're doing anyway.

By lluviaporos — On Oct 18, 2014

@KoiwiGal - All the advanced first aid training in the world won't help if you haven't got real experience to back it up. Giving emergency first aid is a harrowing experience and even if you know the theory that doesn't mean you can handle the practice.

I've heard stories of people who were put into an emergency situation and just froze up. I mean, the hardest thing is that you can't really know how you'll react until it happens to you.

By KoiwiGal — On Oct 17, 2014

I've got to admit, I like traveling and doing things with my sister because I know she's got fairly advanced first aid training. She volunteered with an ambulance service for a long time and she also has trained as a medic with the territorial armed forces.

It's not just that she would know what to do in an emergency, it's that she would be capable of doing it.

Which is kind of ironic I suppose, because I can still remember her being terrified of blood as a child. I once face-planted off my bicycle and scraped up my face and when she saw me she ran screaming in the other direction rather than going to fetch my parents, so I had to go and get them myself.

And no, I never let her forget that, even though I'm much more likely to take that tactic myself these days.

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