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What is Emergency First Aid?

Jessica Ellis
Updated May 17, 2024
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Emergency first aid is a quick and immediate response to an injury or illness crisis. If performed correctly, emergency first aid can help save lives and prevent severe conditions from worsening until official medical treatment can arrive. Training in first aid tactics and techniques is required for some jobs, and may be a good first step for anyone planning a career in medical or emergency response professions.

What differs emergency first aid from general first aid is the severity of the situation. Emergency situations are typically described as life-threatening. If a person has a headache and receives an over-the-counter medication, this is basic first aid. Choking, severe injuries, poisoning or severe allergic reactions, excessive bleeding, heart attack, and broken bones can all be emergency situations.

There are many ways to receive proper training in emergency first aid. Contact local health authorities to find out about classes and certification programs in the local area. First aid training classes often require only a day or two of commitment, but can make a world of difference to a victim in a crisis situation. If becoming certified, find out about renewal or expiration dates; many first aid certificates must be updated every year.

In any emergency situation, one of the first steps is to call emergency personnel. This can ensure that professional help is on the way as soon as possible and that the victim will quickly be transported to a facility for further care. Listen to all instructions given by the dispatcher and try to give accurate and detailed information about the situation.

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation, or CPR, is one of the most commonly taught techniques in emergency first aid. This treatment may be required when a victim has ceased breathing. There are different CPR techniques depending on the age of a victim. Performing CPR without training is not recommended by most experts, but if a victim is not breathing, tell the emergency dispatcher and ask for instructions.

When giving any kind of emergency aid, remember to exercise safety precautions. Even people with a desire to help will only cause a larger problem by becoming an additional victim. Carry basic protective gear and try to keep calm in crisis situations. Remember, the goal of emergency first aid is to help a victim survive the time between the accident or injury and the arrival of professional help. Make any possible efforts to help the victim, but also be sure to keep safe.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Jessica Ellis
By Jessica Ellis , Writer
With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica Ellis brings a unique perspective to her work as a writer for WiseGeek. While passionate about drama and film, Jessica enjoys learning and writing about a wide range of topics, creating content that is both informative and engaging for readers.

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Jessica Ellis

Jessica Ellis


With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica Ellis...
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