First aid is on-the-spot assistance for the ill and wounded, usually provided by a lay person often trained in rudimentary healthcare for such occasions. Either the first aid given is provisional, practised while waiting for professional attendance, or is sufficient in itself with no further medical care is necessary. Many first aid techniques are simple procedures but occasionally first aid applies potentially life-saving techniques such as mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and heart massage.
The earliest instances of recorded care approximating today's first aid were provided by religious knights in the eleventh century to pilgrims and knights. These knights often trained other knights to treat common battlefield injuries. Thereafter, in the High Middle Ages, the practice of first-aid-like care fell largely out of use and organized societies dedicated to first aid did not appear again until the second half of the nineteenth century. The International Committee of the Red Cross was founded in 1863. St. John Ambulance was formed in 1877, based on the principles of the Knights Hospitaller, practising as well as teaching first aid. Many other organisations followed, and the term 'first aid' entered the English language in the 1870s, 'first' as in 'first treatment' and 'aid' as in 'national aid' provided in high risk environments such as large railway centres, ports and mining districts. First aid training spread in a similar fashion throughout the empire through organisations such as St. John. Worldwide, first aid often developed significantly in contexts of warfare. Clara Barton, for example, was prompted to organize the American Red Cross by the American Civil War.
The following factors need to be taken into account when conducting an assessment of your workplace for first aid needs:
Our first aid range includes:
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Have a look at the Health and Safety Executive's first aid page for information on first aid for employers and employees.