The Importance of Learning Basic First Aid

essential skills first aid and medical topics Nov 10, 2020
first aid
Whether you live in the city, in a rural area, on or off the grid, one of the best things you can do for yourself is to learn basic first aid and CPR. Emergency situations often require quick decisions. With proper training, you can successfully manage minor injuries and also help to stabilize someone during an emergency until medical personnel arrive. Proper training and knowledge will give you the confidence to go into action when other people are in a panic. It can sometimes mean the difference between life and death. It is not difficult to learn basic first aid.  You just have to be motivated. 

I have a long history of working in search and rescue, the fire department, and over 20 years as a medical professional. After all that time of dealing with medical emergencies, lots of things are second nature to me, including basic first aid.  However, the average person in our culture is unprepared to deal with medical emergencies even in their own home, much less in the backwoods.  

The Sad Statistics About Basic First Aid

The American Heart Association states that 70% of Americans do not know how to deal with a cardiac emergency. (Approximately 88% of all cardiac emergencies occur in the home.)  Furthermore, 44% of Americans do not even own a first aid kit and 48% do not even have basic emergency supplies.  

These are sad statistics. 

I strongly recommend that if you plan on maintaining any level of self reliance, that you make it a priority to know how to deal with basic medical emergencies. At a minimum, take a basic first aid class, learn CPR and how to use an AED.  You can take this a step further by becoming a certified first responder.  This may sound like a lot, but if you plan on living in a rural or isolated area, having such knowledge and experience may save someone’s life, and that life may be your own.  

I am not going to make an attempt to rewrite a basic first aid manual.  But, I will simply list some basic first aid skills that you should master. That is followed by several links to different organizations that offer classes.  As a general rule, taking any sort of first aid class requires full participation in all course activities, passing a written exam, and demonstration of proficiency in all the required skills.  

Basic first aid skills you need to know

  1. How to recognize an emergency situation
  2. How to do scene assessment for any potential dangers
  3. Know when and how to activate the Emergency Medical System (EMS)
  4. Know the legal issues directly related to providing first aid
  5. Know how to keep yourself safe while providing first aid
  6. Know when it is indicated to move a victim during an emergency and how to safely do so.
  7. Know the signs, symptoms and proper first aid for the following conditions: 
  • bleeding and shock
  • choking and how to use the Heimlich maneuver 
  • heart attack
  • stroke
  • head injury
  • neck and spine injuries
  • eye injuries
  • Bone, joint, and muscle injuries
  • burns
  • chest and abdominal wounds
  • respiratory emergencies
  • dental emergencies
  • asthma
  • anaphylaxis
  • diabetic emergencies
  • poisoning
  • bites and stings
  • Hypothermia
  • Hyperthermia
  • cold related injuries such as frostbite
  • How to clean a wound
  • Signs of infection
  • How to stop severe bleeding
  • Recognize shock and how to treat it

All these skills may seem like a lot if you have no experience.  However,  this is truly basic knowledge that you should have even if you live in the city. 

For further training, visit the following websites.   

American Red Cross

Basic First Aid:  Take a Class

American Red Cross:

Emergency First Responder: Emergency First Responder Certification

National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) 

This is a US based outdoor education school. Their courses focus on outdoor leadership, technical outdoor skills, wilderness medicine, risk management, and environmental ethics. You can view their courses HERE.

Additional Posts of Interest

How to Build a First Aid Kit

The Ten Essentials Needed for Survival

Go off grid and live well,


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