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Principles of First Aid for Beginners

If you are in search of a clear beginners guide for the first aid principles, this article serves to provide just that!

Below, we go into the primary first aid principles - and the reasons for which they are in place.

What are the basic principles of first aid? 

Short answer: there are three basic first aid principles to follow. They are: preserve life, prevent deterioration and promote recovery. 

  • In summary; the concepts of the steps are preventing further danger, preventing worsening and then performing treatment. 
  • First aid principles are absolutely crucial to preventing further harm, increasing chances of a positive outcome and ensuring proper treatment. 
  • They serve to prevent both short and long-term damage. 
  • You can learn about first aid principles in a first aid course/from credible information sources. 
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How Many Principles of First Aid Are There?

Firstly, what are the principles of first aid - and how many are there?

Essentially, the term ”principles” refers to a set of concepts or ideas that exist to serve a purpose - usually an important and crucial one.

This is no exception in the case of first aid.

  • The first aid principles are a set of important methods/concepts and ideas, which serve to preserve safety and result in positive outcomes in emergency situations. 
  • There are 3 basic first aid principles. 
  • They serve almost as a roster for important and potentially life-saving steps to follow in an emergency. 

The three primary first aid principles are: 

Preserve life 

Step/principle one: preserving life and preventing further danger. 

  • The first step is to observe and check the area or environment you are in, in order to ensure no further danger is present. 
  • You should perform a risk assessment of potential hazards. 
  • Look for any dangers. 

  • This includes determining if your own life (or any witnesses and surrounding individuals) is in danger before you choose to assist. 
  • If you feel you are in danger, instead do all you can to remove the person from the setting if possible, to avoid further harm. 
  • However, generally it will involve checking and ensuring that the trigger or cause does not present any further danger. Then ring for an ambulance or medical assistance. 

    This will vary depending on the setting you are dealing with; example fire, bush injury (such as a snake bite) or wound.

    Example: in the case of a snake bite, you would ensure the snake is not present/removed (though you may not wish to do this yourself unless trained to) and entirely not a risk.  

Prevent deterioration 

After making sure that your own safety is not endangered, you move on to properly addressing the person. 

Your goal here is prevention. 

Again, although this varies per scenario; you are instructing and employing any necessary practices that prevent worsening of the injury, wound or situation.

Example: using the snakebite scenario again, you are instructing the person to remain completely still so that the poison does not spread throughout their body. 

  • This is absolutely crucial in preventing further damage, because preventative strategies can be the primary way to hold out/lengthen survival until help arrives. 
  • They also help to ensure better chances of recovery, sometimes in the long term as well. 

Promote recovery 

Now that you have prevented further damage occurring, you move onto treatment immediately.

The last principle involves taking any and all needed steps to help the person recover.

  • This can include treatments, practices and first aid procedures - all with the goal of resolving the issue the best possible (at least until help arrives). 
  • The aim is to fix, reduce and prevent complications - and use methods that may be significant to recovery (both short and long term). 

Example: perform CPR, or apply bandages/first aid treatments and procedures.

There are also important first aid practices to follow, alongside the principles.

These are too long to cover in this article, but will be incorporated into any first aid course you take or core first aid information.

Alongside the principles, make sure to:

  • Act fast. Don’t delay, begin straight away. 
  • Act fast. Don’t delay, begin straight away. 
  • Ring an ambulance/seek medical assistance when necessary. 
  • Follow the DRSABCD protocol. 
  • Apply the correct treatment (this depends on the situation you’re dealing with): e.g CPR or wound bandages. 
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Why is it Important to Know the Basic Principles of First Aid? 

You can think of the basic first aid principles as the bare minimum in an emergency scenario.

They are essentially high priority steps, and pretty non-negotiable ones at that.

  • In any first aid context, following the basic first aid principles is crucial to both preventing further harm and resolving the issue at hand. 
  • When you are dealing with a very dangerous or life-threatening scenario, this can be extremely important.
  • Small actions can have big impacts. The first aid principles can be life-saving if applied properly. 
  • Improper handling of a first aid situation can result in an even worse outcome, or failure to provide proper treatment and action. 
  • Timely action is crucial to both recovery and good short and long term outcomes. 
  • Failing to follow the principles may result in danger/injury to you and the person you are trying to help. 

Who can benefit from the first aid principles? 

Additionally to that, the principles are important for both the person assisting and the person being helped.

Example: you are attempting to assist a person in distress, however you do so improperly and you yourself end up injured.

  • In this scenario, not only are you not able to help the person - you are now in need of help as well. 
  • This is more common than you may think.

    Take a fire or a chemical/dangerous substance exposure, for instance.

    In certain cases, there is also a high chance of the responder being at risk while trying to help.

What Are The Aims and Objectives of First Aid Principles? 


These three principles target the core elements of first aid all throughout - from response to recovery.

They allow you to uphold the mission of first aid properly; providing necessary care.


The first aid principles have many core goals.

They aim to:

  • Help to preserve chances of recovery, life and survival 
  • Assist with holding out/lengthening time chances until medical help arrives (critical in serious situations such as CPR) 
  • Promote both short and long term recovery (example: acting fast can prevent long-term damage and complications, such as permanent snake venom damage to the body)
  • Prevent further harm from arising to both the person assisting and the person being helped 
  • Prevent any worsening to the wound by taking steps that stop the situation worsening or being exacerbated
  • Potentially save a life through proper practices and action.
  • Ensure the issue at hand is treated. 

Where to Learn the Principles of First Aid

Fortunately, you have many options to help you get started when it comes to learning the first aid principles. 


If you’d like to go in depth right off the bat, you can consider taking a first aid course.

These are available both online and in your local area.

They will guarantee you are provided with all the core and basic information you need to know in a first aid scenario, and properly equip you for an emergency.

  • You can view our articles on first aid courses in Australia; we have one for every state!
  • Alternatively, view your online options here

Alternative options and credible information/websites 

If you are looking for a good starting option, you can access an authorised first aid pamphlet/booklet or website.

Make sure that any source that you obtain first aid information from is credible.

Don’t get your first aid steps from unauthorised sources.

There are many registered first aid bodies and agencies, alongside lots of online first aid booklets and resources.

Survival first aid booklet/guide: 

We have one at survival (which is a free e-book option) that you can download here

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Related Questions:

What are other important first aid tips/practices I need to know? 

Properly educate yourself on the correct treatment for common and crucial first aid situations.

Examples would be: ensuring you can perform CPR, dress a wound/a burn, and know what to do in the case of common insect or animal (such as snake) bites.

What is DRSABCD, and why is it important? 

DRSABCD is an important acronym that refers to a set of primary first aid steps to follow.

You should also make yourself aware of this protocol alongside the basic principles.

It stands for: danger, response, send (for help), airway, breathing, CPR, and defibrillator,

Concluding overview: 

Proper first aid is dire and highly important in an emergency.

In this article, we covered the basic first aid principles.

Make sure to carefully follow these principles for the best outcome and the safety of all involved.

Lastly, take proper care to properly inform yourself on first aid procedures.

Until next time!


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