What is Medical First Aid?

Harriette Halepis

Medical first aid refers to the treatment and care of a person suffering from illness or injury. First aid measures range from the application of bandages to the administering of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Any person can be taught to perform first aid techniques that can potentially save lives.

OTC antibiotic cream is often used to treat minor wounds.
OTC antibiotic cream is often used to treat minor wounds.

Religious knights were the first to perform medical first aid. During the 11th century, these knights would tend to sick and injured warriors, and they later taught other knights how to care for those around them. These lessons proved to be invaluable, since many knights would die on the battlefield from simple injuries that could have been, and later were, easily prevented.

Gauze bandages are included in medical kits and will be utilized in some cases where first aid is given.
Gauze bandages are included in medical kits and will be utilized in some cases where first aid is given.

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Throughout history, various people formed medical first aid groups that were developed to treat common injuries. However, it was not until a nurse named Clara Barton began to treat United States soldiers during the Civil War that the American Red Cross was formed. Today, the Red Cross still exists, though there are many other organizations that have been formed in order administer first aid to those that need it.

Clara Barton formed the American Red Cross to administer first aid to soldiers during the Civil War.
Clara Barton formed the American Red Cross to administer first aid to soldiers during the Civil War.

With the advancement of technology, medical first aid has also advanced. It is not uncommon for a portable medical kit to contain breathing barriers, medicines, and equipment that can be used for resuscitation purposes. Medical first aid programs teach students three basic goals that include: preserve life, promote recovery, and prevent further harm.

Infant CPR differs from adult CPR.
Infant CPR differs from adult CPR.

Anyone who has been taught how to apply medical first aid is also taught the mnemonic "ABC," which stands for Airway, Breathing, and Circulation. In all cases, first aid should be applied in this order. If a person cannot breathe, it is the responsibility of a first aid administrator to clear air passageways. When passageways are cleared, a person should be encouraged to breathe. Lastly, circulation should be stimulated.

Medical first aid is often administered to people at disaster sites.
Medical first aid is often administered to people at disaster sites.

Keeping these three main steps in mind, anyone performing first aid should be able to help a person in need. In most cases, first aid is highly successful, though it may not help during life threatening situations. First aid certificates are issued different from country to country. In some countries, community organizations may be able to administer first aid, though this may not be the case in all countries.

Medical first aid may involve the administration of CPR.
Medical first aid may involve the administration of CPR.

In order to learn more about first aid, contact your local Red Cross, or similar, organization. First aid should not be administered unless you have been properly trained. Attempting to help someone suffering from a life threatening ailment without first aid knowledge can be extremely dangerous. Thus, it is a good idea for all people to gain basic first aid training.

A person who is choking may require medical first aid.
A person who is choking may require medical first aid.
First responders often wear surgical gloves to prevent the spread of disease.
First responders often wear surgical gloves to prevent the spread of disease.

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