First aid can save lives, and knowing what to do can often be the difference between life and death. From the home to the office, having first aid processes in place to deal with any emergencies can potentially have a massive impact on a person’s life and wellbeing.

Whether it’s a grazed knee or something more serious, the right training and equipment could mitigate the impact of an incident.

Here St John Ambulance explains why first aid training is essential to everyone, from parents to employers, and how to access it.

Attend a course to learn the basics

One of the most effective ways of improving first aid knowledge and abilities is to attend a course that can help to provide a firm foundation.

There are a vast range of courses available, ranging from entry level courses for workplace first aid, to baby first aid, to schools and sports first aid. Specialist courses in managing safety, resuscitation, choking prevention training and many more are also available.

Depending on your job and lifestyle, it’s possible to gain certification in a range of disciplines and areas to suit your needs. Courses generally last one day, with costs varying depending on where the course is held and how many people attend.

When attending a course, there are several basic procedures you can learn that can help with the delivery of preliminary treatment.

These include using a defibrillator, delivering resuscitation, putting someone in the recovery position, using your first aid kit, applying a bandage or dressing, treating a sprain and putting an arm in a sling.

As well as treating physical injuries, there are other techniques and approaches that can be learned and delivered to those in need, including dealing with an asthma attack, choking, dehydration, fever, hypothermia, meningitis, nose bleeds and seizures.

In circumstances where someone may be suffering from any of the above, being able to provide an initial degree of care and treatment until medical professionals are able to tend to the individual or individuals can make all the difference, and a course can teach you these basics. 

What’s the role of a trained first aider?

It can vary significantly, depending on the severity and location of injuries, number of patients, and where the incident has taken place. In addition to actually delivering treatment, first aiders may also be required to assess a situation, protect themselves and others from any ongoing or imminent danger, prevent infection, assess the casualty, comfort and reassure those involved whether they are patients or not, and arrange for additional help.

One of the most important aspects of first aid is the primary survey, which is a fast, safe and effective way of assessing the situation, casualties and injuries. Following the ‘DR. ABC’ approach, this involves checking for Danger, gauging their Response, looking at their Airway, monitoring their Breathing, and assessing their Circulation.

Following the primary survey and confirmation that any potentially life-threatening conditions have been dealt with, the secondary survey can then take place. This involves questioning the casualty on the events leading up to their illness or injury and the incident itself, and carrying out a head-to-toe examination to determine if there are any ongoing or additional issues.

In many instances, further medical assistance may be required, either in the form of an ambulance, a trip to the hospital or a doctors’ appointment, but the need for these trips, the severity of the condition and the chances of preventing any worsening of the injury or illness can all be improved if the right first aid processes or equipment are in place.

How you can help

One of the ways both individuals and employers can help to safeguard themselves, their family and their employees from harm and be prepared to deal with potential injuries or medical issues, is to ensure that a first aid kit is always close by for use when necessary.

A workplace first aid kit should be kept in a visible location and include several items that can help to dress wounds or attend to injuries, including large and small dressings, triangular and conforming bandages, sterile wipes, safety pins, clear and washproof plasters, eye pads, rubber gloves, revive aids, foil blankets, scissors and safety pins.

First aid kits in the home or at sports and leisure venues should include similar items and an assortment of other equipment, such as hand sanitisers, burn shields, instant ice packs, microporous tape, dressing strips, face shields and instruction booklets.

Although these contents are not exclusive, they can provide a useful selection of helpful materials to assist in dealing with problems at an early stage.

St John Ambulance is one of the UK’s leading first aid charities, with more than 400,000 people attending its training programmes every year to learn how to save lives. For more information on its range of courses, health and safety equipment and first aid advice, visit

For more information about Sovereign Health Care and its range of cash plans, visit

Main Logo