How to Select the Right First Aid Course


Nov 11, 2014


Selecting a first aid course can be a difficult task. In India, there are no official Government-approved first aid training courses, very few internationally recognised first aid institutions, and first aid protocols and standards are vary widely.

As well as selecting the right first aid course for your requirements — for example, paediatric first aid for a playgroup teacher or “first aid at work” for a corporation — it is important to know what to look for when selecting a first aid course to ensure that it is professional and adheres to recognised first aid standards.

How to select the right first aid course

Check first aid instructor qualifications

Ensure that the first aid instructor / person running the course is a doctor (preferably a paediatrician in case of infant and child first aid) or has a valid First Aid Instructor qualification — that is, not just someone that has just undertaken a first aid course. The instructor qualification should be from a recognized first aid local or international organisation. (If in doubt, do a Google search on the organisation.)

Make sure the first aid course content is comprehensive

A full first aid course covers primary and secondary care for adults, children and infants. Variations on courses include paediatric first aid (children and infant first aid only), first aid at work (for employers / companies) and secondary first aid. Ensure that you have selected the right course for your needs.

In addition, ensure that the course content adheres to international standards and your requirements. For example, primary care covers life threatening injuries and illnesses. Whilst most courses cover CPR and choking under primary care, be aware that life threatening injuries also include serious bleeding, spinal injury and shock – these are often more common than the need for CPR. And, while it is important, in the absence of local standards, to check adherence to international first aid standards, it is equally important to check that the course content is localised. For example, there is no point in calling 911 (the US emergency helpline) in India!

Look for a first aid course that lectures and role plays

Because it is impossible to have real medical emergencies in a course, scenario based practice is an essential part of any first aid course. Scenarios simulate a real-life situation to check the application of appropriate victim care and techniques, to determine first aid requirements, to administer the correct first aid techniques, test participants’ knowledge of issues that may affect treatment in an emergency, how to ask for help, prioritisation of what type of emergency care to provide, and familiarise participants as much as possible with what a real life scenario may look like. Scenarios also help to embed the first aid learnings in a participant’s memory.

A well-structured first aid course will have a mix of instructor-led lectures, scenario practice, and knowledge reviews to ensure that all participants have learned the techniques and are able to apply them correctly. Also, because it is almost impossible to remember all the first aid techniques in one course, a good first aid course will provide hand-outs for reference purposes.

Make sure there are, at a minimum, professional CPR mannequins

A professionally run course will, at a minimum, have professional CPR mannequins (different adult, child and infant mannequins), an AED (Automated External Defibrillator), and a fully equipped first aid kit.

Look to invest time in first aid training courses, rather than for a quick-fix

It takes 6 to 8 hours to complete a full first aid course, possibly longer if the course is being conducted in a large group. The course duration should allow for each attendee to practice their technique and allow time for attendees to ask questions.

Look for a small class size in your first aid course

Generally, the recommendation is no more than 12 participants per instructor. This ensures that each participant is able to receive the necessary attention and guidance from the instructor. If the number of participants per instructor is higher, the course should be conducted over a longer period of time [for example, a 16 hour course instead of 8 hours].

Look for a first aid course in your language

If you are not comfortable communicating in English, it would be beneficial to take the course in your language. In India, first aid courses should at least have the option of being conducted in English or Hindi.

Don’t expect it to be a one-off engagement

People take first aid training classes but are unlikely to use their first aid skills regularly. As a result, the correct techniques can easily be forgotten. First aid skills need to be kept up to date regularly and practiced; international first aid protocol requires refresher training every 1-2 years. It is beneficial to do a refresher course with the same organisation, since you would already be familiar with their standards and teaching methods.


Written By Keshinee Shah

Ms. Keshinee Shah is an international lawyer and management consultant, with 20 years of first aid experience. She is a first aid instructor and has been conducting training in first aid under Emergency First Response for parents, students, care-givers and professionals, both in India and the UK, since 2011. Keshinee also holds a Diploma in Infant Massage from the UK.


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