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Choosing an Appropriate First Aider

Performing first aid is not something that can be taken lightly, it has to be done by someone who is trained. In this article I will talk about choosing an appropriate first aider.

Who is fit to perform first aid?

Short Answer: Anyone with basic medical training should be able to perform first aid.

  • A first aider’s role consists of many responsibilities that they have to carry out
  • The person will have to be the leader in an emergency
  • The more trained the person is, the more appropriate they will be
  • They need to be able to communicate effectively with people in pain

Can anyone perform first aid?

No, unfortunately an ordinary person without any training in first aid is unable to perform first aid.

However, if you have the genuine interest in starting the training needed to become a first aider, there are a couple of qualifications you can pursue:

  • First Aid qualifications in COVID-19 
  • First Aid qualifications in first aid 
  • First Aid qualifications specific to various professions 
  • First Aid qualifications in childcare

When it comes to qualifications for a first aider, there are certain courses that have been recommended according to the Australian Resuscitation Council (ARC).

The HLTADO11 is one of these courses that is a compulsory qualification for all first aiders.

As it is an essential skill, it will definitely be worth pursuing if you are interested in the whole field.

Learning how to do techniques such as CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation) will come in handy during times when you least expect it.

You can find out more information about this from our article that covers the types of first aid qualification in more detail here.

Is there a penalty for performing first aid without training?

Yes there are penalties for performing first aid, and rightfully so because there are certain scenarios that could go wrong, such as:

  • Offering aid could make the situation worse 
  • It could potentially result in death 
  • The risk of legal repercussions

Note: being trained and knowing exactly what to do in an emergency is a different story altogether.

Offering aid could make the situation worse

Wanting to genuinely help someone in pain may be an instance where it could backfire on you.

One rookie move has the potential to either save a person or trigger something that could end up being fatal.

It could potentially result in death

Before jumping in to help someone that is visibly struggling, first stop to call emergency services, and then think about these things:

  • The severity of the situation 
  • The consequences of your actions 
  • Is there anyone else who can help

Once you step in to help, there’s no going back or reversing anything you do next, something that has to be considered very seriously.

There is a likely possibility that there is a trained professional who will take charge during the accident or emergency.

Risk of legal repercussions

In the event of the situation taking a turn for the worse, there will be legal repercussions because of your actions, which they do have the right to.

This is another reason why you need to weigh your options very carefully, as I mentioned there’s no going back once you step in.

How long does it take to be able to perform first aid?

The first aid certificate determines whether an individual is qualified to carry out the duties and responsibilities that come with First Aid.

It proves that the enrollee has passed the course and has the necessary knowledge and skills.

The basic courses could generally take a few hours or up to a day to complete, but there are a series of courses that have to be completed before you are able to perform first aid.

After completing the course, the qualification will have to be renewed every 3 years.

It is required by the Safe Work Australia First Aid that employers need to ensure that their nominated first aiders regularly attend training to adapt to new methods.

The duties of a first aider

Overall, a first aider’s main priority would be to save a person’s life, preventing their condition from possibly worsening.

The duties of a first aider include:

  • Providing immediate care to an ill or injured person 
  • Assessing casualties, discovering cause and nature of injury 
  • Record and note down observations of casualties 
  • Reassure the casualty that medical help is on the way 
  • Smooth handover to medical professionals

Making sure that the ill/injured person is taken care of is another important priority for first aiders.

  • Providing immediate care to an ill or injured person

Since first aiders are usually on the scene before other medical professionals, they provide the immediate care that’s needed at that moment in time.

While they are helping the injured person, they have to monitor the people around them, ensure their safety as well.

  • Assessing casualties, discovering cause and nature of injury

Assessing the severity of the casualties, as well as the cause and nature of the injuries is vital, too.

The sooner the cause and nature of injury is found, the more likely the injured person has a chance of recovering faster.

  • Record and note down observations of casualties

A first aider will have to record and note down observations of casualties, and keep these all in an organized manner for the next person to go through.

The videos and notes could prove to be very useful if something happens to any of the victims in an accident.

  • Reassure the casualty that medical help is on the way

The injured victims will definitely need solid reassurance that professional medical help will be coming shortly, especially if it’s a serious injury such as a leg fracture.

Knowing that they will be taken care of by medical professionals or a doctor will ease their conscience.

  • Smooth handover to medical professionals

After medical professionals make it to the scene, they will expect a detailed count of what exactly happened, and will go through the observations you made.

Being able to handle a smooth hand over to these professionals is a necessary duty that needs to be performed.

In addition to the duties mentioned above, first aiders will have to perform medical procedures that include:

  • Stop bleeding by using elevation and pressure 
  • Performing CPR
  • Keeping a fractured limb supported in a still position 
  • Having to use a Automated External Defibrillator 
  • Maintaining their airway if the victim is unconscious

These procedures will all be done immediately, most likely before the arrival of professional’s.

Related Questions

Is it necessary to refresh my first aid qualification?

Yes, it is required by Safe Work Australia First Aid that once you have completed the courses and have received the certificate, you will have to renew your first aid qualification every 3 years.

This is because it’s helpful to be up to date with new medical methods these days.

Is a hospital visit needed after performing first aid?

Yes, if the injured person seems to be in a stable position after performing first aid, it is still advised to take them to the hospital for a full check-up.

There may be internal issues that only a proper examination will be able to detect, along with a doctor to diagnose the injury.


Choosing an appropriate first aider is an extremely important decision to make, as there are many factors to consider which I have covered in this article.


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