First Aid and Personal Safety

Young man reanimation on a road. Concept first aidWe tend to focus on personal safety as simply recognizing, acting upon and reacting to threatening situations. And those ARE the primary forces involved.

But we have to recognize that the “big picture” is about saving lives and reducing the damage when emergencies occur. Learning first aid and other forms of emergency assistance are well within the reach of most people.

First Aid/CPR

The typical course is taught by the American Red Cross, and lasts about 7 hours. You learn, and are certified to administer first aid (cuts, bruises, bone and muscle injuries, shock, bleeding and other first aid emergencies), how to administer CPR and most also include AED (automated external defibulator) training for heart attack victims.

First Responder

This training was designed to fill the gap between the 7 hours of a CPR course, and the 180 hours needed to become an EMT.

First Responders can serve as secondary providers with some volunteer EMS services. A certified first responder can be seen either as an advanced first aid provider, or as a limited provider of emergency medical care when more advanced providers are not yet on scene or available. The training takes in the neighborhood of 50 to 70 hours.

Emergency Medical Technician (EMT)

Emergency Medical Technicians are certified according to their level of training. Individual states set their own standards of certification (or licensure, in some cases) and all EMT training must meet the minimum requirements as set by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) standards for curriculum.

The procedures and skills allowed at this level are generally non-invasive such as bleeding control, positive pressure ventilation with a bag valve mask, oropharyngeal airway, nasopharyngeal airway, supplemental oxygen administration, and splinting. The training generally takes approximately 180 hours and the demonstration of a wide variety of practical, basic life-saving skills. An EMT certification can generally be completed in one semester at a junior college.


Paramedics are advanced medical professionals that are certified to perform a wide variety of life saving functions, including the administration of a large variety of drugs. They deliver the highest level of advanced life support available outside of a hospital.

They are trained to keep critical patients alive by assessing illnesses and injuries and by providing life-sustaining treatment on the scene and during transport to a hospital emergency department. Most paramedic programs take approximately 2 years to complete and include a minimum of 480 hours of practical medical internships.

At a very minimum, a first aid course, and even the First Responder certification are well within the time constraints of most individuals. In a critical situation, having those life saving skills could come in very handy indeed.

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