There are many answers to the question! Here are a range of definitions we have come across.
“Emergency care or treatment given to an ill or injured person before regular medical aid can be obtained.”
“First aid is emergency care given immediately to an injured person. The purpose of first aid is to minimize injury and future disability.”
“First aid is simple medical treatment given as soon as possible to a person who is injured or who suddenly becomes ill.”
“The initial process of assessing and addressing the needs of someone who has been injured or is in physiological distress.”
These are all fine and give a sense of first aid is all about. But we tend to say “First Aid is immediate temporary care for the ill and injured” on our first aid courses.
We also always explain that the First Aider has three priorities:
- Preserve life – Stop the casualty from dying. Keep everyone alive. Basic ABC (Airway, Breathing, Circulation)
- Prevent further worsening – Stop the casualty from getting any worse by treating their injuries. Also managing the incident, to prevent the situation worsening.
- Promote recovery – Try to help the person feel better by talking to them and supporting them emotionally.
Of course in the most common first aid incidents are minor. In these instances of minor cuts, bruises and burns in the kitchen, sticking to the three priorities should be easy enough. What about the larger incidents that happen less often though? Then we may really need to concentrate on the priorities to ensure that we are making good decisions in a stressful situation…