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A Brief Explanation of the Role of First Aid 

First aid is a science that has been practised and perfected by humans for several millennia. Through first-aid, many lives have been saved over the years. 

What is the role of first aid?

According to St. John's Ambulance, the role of first aid is to help someone who is injured or ill so as to keep them safe from further harm.


Does the Role of First Aid Ever Change?

Given how the role of first aid is to help people in emergency medical situations and how universal this practice is, it is safe to say that the role of first aid does not change that often.

However, it must be noted that first aid practises change from time to time to keep in line with new findings and innovations of science. This is why many of the first aid courses out there require first aiders to attend regular courses to refresh their knowledge or to renew their certifications at regular intervals.

What Are the Characteristics of a Good First Aider?

A first aider is someone that is trained and qualified to administer immediate assistance in case of a medical emergency until further help arrives. 

The role of first aid is primarily carried out by first aiders. First aiders often have to deal and work with high-risk, fast-moving environments. In order to fulfil the role of first aid in such scenarios, it is imperative these first aiders are equipped with several key characteristics in addition to first aid knowledge.

  • Quick to Respond
  • In medical emergencies, time is of utmost importance. Therefore first aiders must be quick to recognise if the victim needs assistance.

    Furthermore, first aiders must be quick and wise to analyse the situation and devise a plan to handle the emergency accordingly.

  • Calm and in Command 
  • When carrying out the role of first aid, first aiders are often confronted with a number of different emergency situations that take work to handle. To be in command during these situations, they must keep their cool under pressure. This, in turn, will help them assess the situation better, thereby helping them come up with better solutions.

    Failure to do so will only make it worse. Not to mention that your coworkers and bystanders will lose confidence in you to handle such scenarios.

  • Communication Skills
  • Communication skills are a must when carrying out the role of first aid. There are two main areas where first aiders will need impeccable communication skills.

    • Communicate with the victim or coworkers/bystanders. 
      • First aiders need to communicate with either the victim or coworkers and bystanders to get an accurate account of the incident that took place. 
      • It is imperative they communicate clearly and explicitly to receive as much information as possible.
      • If the victim is in agony or excruciating pain, first aiders will have to adapt strategies to get them to focus and provide information.
    • Communicate with emergency personnel and paramedics. 
      • First aiders are responsible for handing over victims to emergency personnel or paramedics once they arrive.
      • In such occasions, communicating details clearly to the emergency personnel without leaving any details out will help them adopt the best course of action as soon as possible.
  • A leader and a team player
  • As first aiders are qualified individuals who can handle emergencies, they must be competent and confident enough to take control of emergencies.

    Additionally, they must be comfortable with working as a team since their work often involves working with fellow first aiders.

  • Know Your Limits
  • As much as you want to help others during an emergency, it is always wise to know your limits. If the emergency calls for more than you can do and know, call in an experienced individual to take care of the situation.

  • Resourceful
  • A first aider must be resourceful enough to find the equipment he needs as soon as possible. This will enable him to provide emergency assistance as quickly as possible.

  • Empathy
  • Relating to the victim by understanding their frame of mind will help first-aiders communicate more effectively.

  • Fitness
  • Sometimes, emergencies take place in locations that are difficult to get in and out of. Being physically fit to get yourself in or get the victim out of such a location will be necessary.


How to Become a First Aider?

In order to be recognised as a first aider, you will need to be trained and certified by Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) in Australia. There are several organisations in Australia that provide such courses.

  • St. John's Ambulance, Australia
  • Australian Red Cross
  • Royal Life Saving Society Australia
  • CareFlight

These courses range across a broad spectrum according to the skills provided and the venue. While some courses can be customised to add modules that are important to you, some cannot.

According to the venue, these courses can be categorised into four types.

  • Public - These will be held at a fixed venue, open to all.
  • On-site - You are given the choice of venue.
  • Customised - On-site consultations
  • Online - Online training.

According to the skill, there are many courses you can choose from.

  • CPR Courses 
    • These courses will give you the skill and confidence needed to perform CPR on infants, children and adults. 
    • The Safe Work Australia First Aid in the Workplace Model Code of Practice requires nominated first aiders to regularly refresh their knowledge of CPR. Accordingly, such groups are required to attend refresher courses every 12 months and renew their certifications every three years.
  • Basic Emergency Life Support 
    • These will arm you against life-threatening situations such as managing an unconscious casualty, performing CPR, and controlling bleeding.
  • First aid in Education and Care Setting 
    • Skills and knowledge required to provide first aid to infants, children and the elderly will be provided.
    • This course is suitable for early childhood workers and educators who work with school-age children in outside school hours care and vacation programs. 
  • First Aid in remote or isolated settings 
    • Ideal for bushwalkers, climbers, canyoners, cavers, 4WD enthusiasts, outdoor/adventure instructors, wilderness guides, scout leaders or people who work and live in remote and/or isolated locations.

How Important Is the Role of First Aid in Society

First aid as a way of saving lives has done a great deal of services to society. 

  • Saving Lives
  • The role of first aid, at its core, is to save lives. And it has done precisely that on countless occasions.

    Time is of the essence when dealing with medical emergencies. First aid helps manage casualties until professional help arrives, which is an efficient way to make maximum use of your limited time.

  • Relieves Pain
  • Most medical emergencies leave victims with excruciating pain. A trained first aider can provide such victims with immediate relief. This can include giving the person pain medication from a first aid kit, pouring cold water over a burn, preparing an instant-activating cold pack, etc.

  • Helps Prevent Infections
  • What you do with injuries can increase or decrease the chances of infections. Treatments administered the correct way can reduce the risk of infection to a great extent.

  • Makes Workplaces Safer
  • Having more people who are aware of first aid in your workplace makes it safer for everybody.

    Since many workplaces deal with the public, employees who are aware of first aid will help create a safer environment for customers too.

    When choosing first aid training programs for your workplace, consider the emergencies that are most probable to take place in your workplace. For example, it is better to have your employees aware of first aid for cuts or burns if it is a restaurant. However, if it is a construction site, it is better to have your employees aware of responses to heatstroke and dehydration.

  • Saves Money
  • Not only does first aid save lives, but it also saves money. Knowing how to manage a minor cut or burn will save you from a visit to the doctor. Even if you have to visit a doctor, it will make treatments much more straightforward, which will save you money at the end of the day.


Related Questions:

Do you need a first aid certificate to act in emergencies?

It is always better to have a first aid qualifications for these instances since you will have been trained by professionals to act in these situations.


The role of first aid, in the simplest words, is to save lives and hold on till emergency personnel arrive. Irrespective of your profession, having a sound knowledge of first aid will go a long way in saving a life.


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