Are you trained in first aid? If not, you should be. You can buy or assemble a first aid kit fairly cheaply, but if the only thing you know how to use in it is the adhesive bandages, you may have trouble in an emergency. It will do you little good to have a first aid kit in your preparedness supplies if you don’t know how to effectively use the items in the kit. If you were trained in first aid a few years ago, it is probably time for a refresher course.
Why would you want to take a first aid class? The point of being trained in first aid is so that you can help yourself and others in the event of an emergency. In most emergencies, someone can call 911 and the person doing first aid will generally be relieved of their duty as a first responder as soon as trained medical personnel arrive. In a natural disaster, this wait time could be a very long time – so it is even more important that someone around you and your loved ones be trained to deal with medical emergencies.
What will you learn? Basic first aid classes will teach you how to recognize and care for a variety of medical emergencies. They will cover things like burns, cuts, broken bones, head/neck/back injuries, illness, and other things like dealing with weather situation such as frostbite and heat stroke. They also cover items like shock, bleeding, breathing/choking problems, and cardiac emergencies. During the class, not only should you receive instruction, but you should also get to practice the skills you have learned about – like CPR, splinting and bandaging wounds, and giving rescue breathing. You should also learn how to stay safe as a first aid provider – about “good Samaritan laws”, protecting yourself from air or blood-borne pathogens, and how to know when it isn’t safe to move the injured person for fear of aggravating the injury.
What will it cost? The cost ranges quite a bit, depending on where you take the class and whether or not you will be certified. If your employer offers it for free, as some do, take advantage of it! If not, check around. There are many options that are not all that expensive. It is definitely worth your time and money to be more prepared for any medical emergencies you might encounter.
Certification? The certificate is documentation that shows that you have completed specific training in first aid and perhaps CPR. For some organizations, you will have the option of a cheaper class for personal knowledge or a higher priced class if you want certification. If you are just looking for first aid knowledge and don’t need the certification for employment or some other purpose, than the cheaper course (without a certificate) may be sufficient.
Where to find a class? There are many places that offer first aid training. Check with your employer. Many businesses offer first aid training to their employees for free. If they don’t, there are many other places to check – disaster preparation and recovery agencies, medical agencies, or your local hospitals, recreation centers, or community centers. If there isn’t a convenient location near you, check online. There are many organizations that offer online courses in the comfort of your living room. Note that some classes are geared specifically toward first aid for adults, others for children. It is a good idea to have a class that covers both aspects of first aid, because there are some differences to keep in mind when you are using first aid.
Taking a first aid course just makes common sense as you are preparing for any type of emergency. Do yourself and your loved ones a favor, and make sure you know how to use everything in your first aid kit.