What is First Aid & How to Get First Aid Certification

Having first aid certification is invaluable for everyone, not just parents and workers. Knowing the basics of how to handle specific emergency situations can be a lifesaver in many circumstances. It also provides peace of mind knowing that if an emergency were to arise, you would have the skills and knowledge necessary to help. Many jobs require their employees to have first aid certification due to its importance in certain roles, but it is beneficial for everybody regardless of profession or lifestyle. 

Some occupations require employees to have basic CPR and first aid training for their job like 

  • Lifeguards 
  • Teachers
  • Flight attendants
  • Police officers 
  • Nursing home workers 

What is First Aid?

First aid is a form of medical assistance that can be provided in an emergency situation. It is the initial care given to someone who has been injured or is experiencing a sudden illness, such as a heart attack or stroke. First aid involves providing quick and appropriate treatment until professional medical help arrives.

The main goal of first aid is to preserve life, prevent further injury, and promote recovery. Providing first aid may involve 

  • Assessing the scene for safety before approaching the patient.
  • Checking vital signs.
  • Administering basic treatments such as dressings, bandages, and splints.
  • Controlling bleeding and shock.
  • Giving CPR if necessary.
  • Monitoring breathing patterns.
  • Calling for help from emergency services (such as paramedics).
  • Treat minor ailments such as burns or cuts with antiseptic cream/spray/wash, etc.
  • Immobilizing fractures using slings or splints.
  • Attending to bites from animals/insects, etc.
  • Comforting the patient emotionally by providing reassurance and support while waiting for help to arrive. 

First aid training teaches people how to respond appropriately in an emergency situation so they can provide immediate assistance before professional medical help arrives on the scene. This includes learning how to recognize signs of distress, safely assess risks at the scene, and correctly use protective equipment when handling patients with infectious diseases.

Why is First Aid Important? 

First aid is an incredibly important skill to have and it can help save lives in times of emergency. When someone experiences a medical emergency, such as choking, bleeding heavily, or having a heart attack, immediate action needs to be taken. First aid is the initial response that helps to stabilize the patient until professional medical help arrives. It can provide comfort and reassurance while also preserving life by preventing further injury or harm from occurring.

First aid not only saves lives but also ensures proper care for those who are injured or ill while they wait for medical attention. Without first aid being administered quickly, more serious injuries may occur which could potentially lead to death if left untreated too long. With the basic knowledge of how to perform first aid techniques and procedures, individuals are able to respond quickly and appropriately when needed most in order to prevent any further damage from occurring before professionals arrive on the scene. In addition, first aid training teaches people how to recognize signs of illnesses or injuries so that they know when professional help should be sought out immediately rather than waiting for symptoms to worsen over time without treatment. Many people often brush off the importance of first aid but when an emergency arises you will be thankful you learned the vital tools of first aid to help in the situation. 

What Should Be in a First Aid Kit?

A well-stocked first aid kit can keep you prepared for emergencies. Having a first aid kit gives you the tools to effectively treat common injuries. You should keep one first aid kit in your car and one in your home. If you work in an office, find out where they keep the first aid kit so you can be prepared if anything were to happen at work. You can purchase first aid kits in many stores or create your own. The American Red Cross recommends that for a family of four a first aid should include: 


  • 2 absorbent compress dressings (5 x 9 inches) 
  • 25 adhesive bandages (assorted sizes)
  • 1 adhesive cloth tape (10 yards x 1 inch)
  • 5 antibiotic ointment packets (approximately 1 gram) 
  • 5 antiseptic wipe packets 
  • 2 packets of aspirin (81 mg each) 
  • 1 emergency blanket
  • 1 breathing barrier (with one-way valve)
  • 1 instant cold compress
  • 2 pairs of nonlatex gloves 
  • 2 hydrocortisone ointment packets (approximately 1 gram each)
  • 1 3 in. gauze roll (roller) bandage
  • 1 roller bandage (4 inches wide) 
  • 5 3 in. x 3 in. sterile gauze pads 
  • 5 sterile gauze pads (4 x 4 inches)  
  • Oral thermometer (non-mercury/non-glass)
  • 2 triangular bandages 
  • Tweezers
  • Emergency First Aid guide

When putting a first aid kit together for your family, think about the specific healthcare needs of your loved ones. For example, if they have diabetes include a juice box and glucose tablets, or if there is a severe allergy include antihistamine medication and an epi-pen. 

Do First Aid Kits Expire?

First aid kits do not have an expiration date, but the items inside them should be checked periodically to ensure they are still usable. Each component inside the first aid kit will have its own expiration date so it's essential to regularly check your supplies. However, some items such as latex gloves and adhesive bandages may need to be replaced more often due to wear and tear. It is also important to check for recalled products or outdated medicines that could cause harm if misused. Additionally, it is recommended that you add new first aid supplies as needed based on your family's needs or activities that increase their risk of injury or illness (e.g., outdoor activities).

How to Get CPR and First Aid Certified & How Long Does a First Aid Certificate Last?

To receive your first aid, CPR, and AED certifications you will need to attend a designated class that teaches you all the basic skills. Once you pass the first aid class you will receive your first aid certification. These classes can be found at local hospitals, schools, and organizations like the American Red Cross. A first aid certificate expires after 2 years in the state of Illinois. After 2 years you will need to renew your first aid certification by taking a first aid renewal class.  

Having first aid certification is important for many parents, families, and workers as some jobs require employees to be first aid certified. Knowing the vital skills and knowledge of how to handle an emergency situation can help save a life. A first aid kit should contain bandages, antiseptic wipes, aspirin, and more. First aid kits do not expire but the items inside should be checked periodically. To get first aid certification you need to attend a designated class at your local school or hospital and the certification will last 2 years before needing to be renewed. Overall, learning first-aid skills is essential for everyone because you never know when you might need them—whether it’s yourself experiencing a health emergency or someone else.