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How do I Improve my First Aid Skills?

Tricia Christensen
By
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Many people know a little bit about first aid, or what to do first when injury or other emergencies arise. This cursory knowledge isn’t always adequate in true emergencies, and many are interested in increasing first aid skills, so that they would really be able to help if a loved one or a stranger was injured or suddenly became gravely ill. There are many ways people can improve knowledge in this subject.

Those people uninterested in getting any type of certification could begin by studying free online resources that explain the basic details of first aid. Such resources are found through online sites like the Mayo Clinic, and there are many videos on sites like YouTube that can demonstrate first aid procedures. Studying these can expand the knowledge of someone who wants to improve first aid skills, but it is still unlikely to be sufficient training in all cases, and most sites dutifully warn people that their material is for informational purposes only.

To get more training, people could enroll in classes. These may be taught by organizations like the Red Cross, and private companies may offer instruction too. Some classes are online, which means they can be taken at any time, and they can include testing for some types of certification. Taking these classes helps expand knowledge and may meet requirements for first aid training that are set by employers. It should be noted that online first aid classes do not cover CPR training. This training must be performed at an onsite class so that people receive sufficient practice in performing compressions of the chest and doing mouth-to-mouth resuscitation on a dummy model.

More extensive classes exist to improve first aid skills. If people plan to work at fire departments, or if they want to volunteer to help emergency responding organizations, they may need to study for a longer period. They might need to take classes aimed at really improving first aid skills that include 40 hours or more of instruction and practice time. Though this can be a commitment, those with this additional knowledge are prepared to do things like help deliver babies and move injured people. Volunteers with organizations like the Red Cross that are visible after manmade or natural disasters are typically folks who have improved their first aid skills and have this advanced first aid training. People can carry a card that certifies them to respond during huge emergencies, if their first aid knowledge is exceptionally strong and they’ve been adequately trained.

For those without the time to take classes, it’s still recommended people at least do some online reading to improve first aid skills. A whole family could or a business could take this up and help each other with quizzes and conversation. It can also be useful to keep a first aid card on hand, which can serve as a reminder of what to do for different types of injuries. Though learning and practice is preferred, some knowledge is certainly better than zero understanding of first aid.

The Health Board 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.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a The Health Board contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.
Discussion Comments
By lluviaporos — On Sep 20, 2014

@browncoat - I think it is taught to kids quite often. I can remember learning in the Scouts and in school, as part of our health classes. I don't know how well they actually taught us, since I've forgotten most of it by now, but I do still remember learning the recovery position and things like that.

By browncoat — On Sep 19, 2014

@clintflint - That's a tough call though, because if you have even the barest minimum of first aid skills and someone isn't breathing, then not trying is worse than trying, even if you're likely to fail.

My sister worked as a volunteer on an ambulance for a couple of years and she told me once that people don't realize how rarely CPR actually works. It always works on TV, but something like 90% of the time it doesn't work in real life, even in a hospital.

I do think that the world would be a better place if first aid was taught routinely in high school to everyone and free refresher courses were available all the time.

By clintflint — On Sep 19, 2014

Please don't think that because you've seen CPR done in the movies or on TV that you are capable of doing it yourself. They almost always get it wrong in some way, and if they don't, they are usually behind the times. CPR techniques are updated regularly, which is why you can't be certified for more than a couple of years before you need to take a refresher course.

And in some cases trying to copy the techniques seen in movies could harm the person more. So if you don't know what you're doing, try to call emergency services at all and get advice.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a The Health Board contributor, Tricia...
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