Historical background - First Aid for all

Millions of people are hurt or killed from injuries every year because adequate and timely assistance is not provided. Effectively, first aid reduces deaths, injuries and impact during disasters and daily emergencies. It provides an immediate response to an emergency, taking life saving measures until professional help arrives. Simple first aid skills, and the confidence to use them, can save lives and everyone, if properly trained, has the potential to save lives.

History and trend
One hundred and fifty years ago, a battle in northern Italy sparked an idea that has since changed the world. On 24 June 1859, Henry Dunant, a young Geneva businessman, witnessed horrifying suffering and agony following the battle of Solferino. He mobilized the civilian population, mainly women and girls, to care for the wounded irrespective of their role in the conflict. He secured them with the necessary materials and supplies and helped in the establishment of temporary hospitals. His book “A memory of Solferino” inspired the establishment of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in 1863. Today, the need for humanitarian action is still as vital as it was in 1859.

Providing first aid services to injured people was one of the first services provided by the Red Cross Red Crescent volunteers for over 100 years. Now, almost all 187 Red Cross Red Crescent (RCRC) National Societies (NS) have first aid as their core activity. Aware that task-shifting (a process of delegation whereby tasks are moved, where appropriate, to less specialized persons) has become a very important process to address health challenges in the last few years, RCRC National Societies are the major first aid educator and provider in the world.

Today, there is a growing interest of private and public sectors alike in ensuring that their respective employees and the population at large receive first aid training. Due to the awareness on the importance of first aid techniques knowledge in reducing the consequences of any type of accident, special attention is increasingly paid to first aid and prevention. The first witness of an accident plays an essential role in the survival chain. The general public should be encouraged to learn first aid since they are often the first present on the spot and thus the first link in any survival chain (pre-hospital care).