Why You Should Learn First Aid

In preparation for an upcoming workshop I went in search of a short blog or white paper on why first aid training is important. Generally, the answer to the question is self-evident. But I thought I would find something with statistics. Or, at the very least, a good overview to remind individuals who were spending time learning valuable lifesaving skills, that their new skills transcended the “emergency.”

My clients have heard me say, “You can do everything right and something can still go wrong.” Yes, that is the reality of things. But, there are things you can do as an individual that reduce the chance of injury, reduce the level of risk and makes you a valuable partner in the event of an emergency.

Unable to find what I wanted, here are my thoughts as to why first aid training for everyone going into the backcountry is important.

YOU Are Prepared to React. Sometime you might be involved in an emergency. What do you do? How will you react? After taking a first aid workshop you have had the benefit of role playing scenarios and hypothetical situations. You have listened to your instructor share their situations and how they reacted. You have practiced the basics of care and have reviewed in your head how you will react when a situation presents itself.

     Example: emergency situation >> stay calm, take a breath, check the victim

Helps Save Lives. The obvious answer. In an emergency, there are a few immediate steps that if done, in order (i.e. airway, breathing, circulation) can help save a life. Individuals not first aid trained will likely step into a scenario with good intentions but an individual trained in first aid might do so with greater confidence, with less reluctance and with more reliable implementation of the skills they have been taught.

     Example: struck by lightning and victim is not breathing >> administer CPR

Better Management of the Small Stuff.
Individuals with first aid training will often take the time needed to address small problems before they turn into the bigger problems. This is the difference between continuing a trip and evacuating a patient. Additionally, individuals with first aid training are teaching others self-care to remedy future episodes or, at least, the need for the “trained person” to have to bandage every boo boo.

     Example: blister hot spot >> treat the spot to prevent a blister

Stop the Escalation. There are injuries that will result in death. For those injuries, combined with time and distance from immediate medical support, environment, terrain and equipment, there is nothing that can be done. Many times, there are injuries that can become life threatening without positive temporary treatment. Individuals with first aid training will often recognize the progression, or immediacy, of a scenario whereby their skills can stop the escalation of bad to really bad.

     Example: finding an unconscious diabetic >> initiate sugar

Increases Alertness.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. ~Benjamin Franklin

One will often look at the world a bit differently with a little bit of knowledge. And, in the backcountry, thinking ahead, pondering the possibilities, managing the what ifs, often greatly reduces the occurrences of injury and accidents. Think of yourself as visualizing one step ahead and staving off the exposure of potential complications.

     Example: too close to a campfire >> setting distance boundaries and perimeters

Reassures Others. People like knowing that someone in their group is trained and can assist in the event of an emergency scenario. Additionally, non-trained individuals are more readily accepting of ques from an individual who is looking out for their best interest and might be persuaded to get training of their own.

     Example: is everyone drinking and maintaining their hydration >> let’s stop for a moment and have a sip of water

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10 thoughts on “Why You Should Learn First Aid”

  1. Do you recommend a specific certification program for first aide? For example the American Heart Association, Red Cross, or National Safety Council all offer programs.

    • Hi Zach, great question. First, for anyone spending time outside, a Wilderness First Aid course is preferable to the a basic first aid offering. The why is because an instructor should be sharing with you how to think differently when you are away from immediate emergency resources like the hospital and ambulance.

      As for who teaches the course, you are correct, there are a number of options. Go with what is available locally (for lack of other options) but if you have a chance to go with a company that educates with a primary “outdoor” bent you are likely to get better “war stories” and “expertise” stemming from actual instructor experience. I, personally, certify through SOLO (http://soloschools.com/) and have found the instructors to be caring and knowledgeable.

      Never stop learning and practicing skills that will keep you safe outside.

  2. I really want to know first aid. I think it would be really helpful in case of emergencies. I’m glad you mentioned that if you know first aid you will look at the world a little bit differently. I think it would be really nice to be able to watch for opportunities to help.

    • Basic first aid courses are helpful but if you spend any time in the backcountry learning about the 10 Essentials and how to improvise will give you confidence in the event there is an emergency.

  3. I am glad that you mention how when you have first aid training you can be prepared to react in an emergency. My husband and I have been considering getting some first aid training in order to be more prepared since natural disasters seem to be happening more frequently. I think we should look into finding a class that will teach us everything we need to know.

  4. I like that you mentioned that a person can have more confidence in emergency situations if they have taken a first aid training class. My wife and I were thinking that it would be a good idea for us to go hiking more often this upcoming spring. Learning first aid would be a good idea for me because I will be able to treat any injuries that might occur to us or people we might be with.

    • For anyone spending time outside knowing what to do if mishap occurs will keep you safer and better prepared for the emotional components. We have several offering for the 2020 training season – both certificate and non certificate training’s.

  5. I like that you said that one of the benefits of first aid classes is that you will be prepared to react in an emergency because you will have probably role played that situation before. My brother has been thinking about taking first aid classes because he recently had his first child, and he wants to know what to do in the event of an emergency. I think it would be good for him to be prepared in case something does happen, and I think it would just help with his peace of mind. I’ll have to tell him to start looking into providers he could go to.

    • Hi Michaela. There are numerous providers – find one that is recommended and will actually share knowledge and skills verses mimicking the book of instruction. There are great teachers out there.


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