The benefits of first aid training for adults is something most people are well aware of. Whether you’re trained in first aid or not, most people understand the value of knowing what to do for a minor injury – or even a full-blown medical emergency. But it’s often regarded as a predominantly adult skill. Most people assume that the only thing a child would need to know if someone is sick or injured is how to summon help.
But is there value to teaching first aid skills to children and young people? Is it realistic to expect a minor to be able to assist in a medical emergency?
Children don’t always have adults easily to hand when they or someone nearby is injured. There are also injuries – such as burns and scalds – where prompt first aid can significantly reduce long-term damage. Having some basic first aid knowledge for common injuries – and an idea of what to do in a more serious emergency – can be incredibly valuable to a child. In some cases, it’s even saved lives!
Of course, it’s not realistic to expect a younger child to complete a full-fledged first aid training course. So what first aid skills could you teach a young person at different ages?
Prior to school, children might struggle to understand many of the concepts of first aid. They may also have low physical strength and limited access to first aid supplies. But there are still valuable skills they can learn. At this age, probably the most valuable skill they can learn is knowing to signal for help – recognising that when someone is hurt and in trouble, they need to seek help from someone older. In most cases, this will mean seeking out an adult in the area if there isn’t one present.
In the worst-case scenario that the only adult present is unconscious and needing help, it is possible for a child as young as three to know how to dial 000. Of course, you need to teach your child when to use it and when not to. But many lives have been saved over the years by a three-year-old calling 000 when a parent collapsed.
It’s worth telling your child that the people on the phone want to help them if they’re in trouble. It’s also important to teach them to say their name and address, so they can tell the operator who and where they are. You could even try using the Triple Zero Kids Challenge app to help them learn about dialling triple zero without needing to make an actual call.
It is possible that a child might at some point make a wrong decision about when to dial 000. You don’t need to stress about this – emergency operators handle everything from prank calls to accidental dials (from someone sitting on their phone) every day. Although it’s important to teach your child only to use the number when someone’s in trouble, it’s better for them to call when it’s not needed than not to call when it is.
Once you’re reaching primary school age, kids understand far more and are getting used to learning. They can also handle more complex ideas and tasks. So what are some practical first aid skills to teach a primary school-aged child?
- Checking for immediate danger and then checking if a person is responsive or breathing
- Staying calm when someone is hurt and reassuring them that help is on the way
- Seeking help (and when to call 000)
- If someone has collapsed, how to make them comfortable – including rolling them into “Recovery” position (on their side)
- How to cover and apply pressure to a bleeding wound
- Running a burn under cool tap water or applying a cool, wet towel if they can’t reach a tap
- Pinching shut a blood-nose for 10 minutes
Once they reach high school, not only is their understanding far more advanced, their physical abilities are also far more extensive. A high school student can grasp most of the ideas presented in first aid training – and indeed, scouts and guides have included first aid in their badge training for many years now. Most high schools students are also now physically capable of performing CPR.
With FirstAidPro’s first aid training, participants as young as 14 can take part (with signed consent from a parent or guardian), meaning they can receive the same training and certification as any workplace first aid officer. This will teach them to be able to respond to a huge variety of medical incidents and emergencies. They’ll also receive accredited certificates in the following.
- HLTAID009 Provide cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)
- HLTAID010 Provide basic emergency life support (BELS)
- HLTAID011 Provide First Aid
This will mean that your child is better prepared to respond to an accident, injury or illness than most adults are.
How do I go about teaching first aid skills to my children?
Kids don’t learn in quite the same way as adults, so teaching first aid skills to a younger child is not simply a matter of sitting them down in front of a whiteboard with a notebook. If you’re hoping to teach skills to younger kids, try to make it as interactive and light as possible. Try using role-play or make-believe to practice skills.
Bandage up teddy after an accident. Help dolly put her hand under running water if she accidentally touches the hot plate in the play kitchen. Use some tomato sauce on your arm to simulate a wound, and get them to help apply pressure. Dial 000 on the play-phone and role-play through the conversation they might expect.
Possibly, get them to think of first aid as a special skill or superpower they can have. Or perhaps relate the skills to a character that heals others (such as Peso from “The Octonauts”).
Introducing an element of fun and play into the learning can help them engage with and grasp valuable concepts in a light-hearted way so that they’ll have some mental framework of how to respond in a serious crisis.
How can it help your child?
You might not be sure of the value of giving your child first aid training. But something to consider is just how many side benefits there are to knowing some first aid essentials.
- Know what to do in a medical emergency – First and foremost, they’d be able to render assistance if someone is ill or injured.
- Teaching them to stay calm – Staying calm in an emergency is an important skill for children to know and practice.
- Teach them to make judgement calls – First aid involves assessing a situation and making a decision on how to respond – also an excellent skill for kids to practice.
- Encourages communication – First aid is a very interactive process. Practising and learning how to work with and help others is a valuable skill at any age.
- Helps confidence and encourages leadership – Being the person who knows what to do in a crisis gives kids a sense of ownership and empowerment. It can also help encourage natural leadership skills to emerge.
- Might open up career pathways for older kids – Having full first aid accreditation on your resume is a pretty handy thing when applying for your first job. And you never know – it might set kids on a path to a medical career.
First aid for all ages
First aid is an incredibly valuable skill for kids of all ages. There are stories of children of various ages saving lives with first aid skills and knowledge – everything from three-year-olds calling 000 when a parent had collapsed right up to 13-year-olds saving their sports coach with CPR. Why not give your kids the tools to help the people around them when someone is hurt, sick, or out of action?