World First Aid Day: Red Cross Red Crescent calls for expansion of life-saving skills for everyone, everywhere

Published: 12 September 2014

Geneva, 12 September 2014 – For World First Aid Day, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is calling on communities worldwide to be equipped with life-saving skills, be it in times of everyday crises, disasters or conflicts. 90 per cent of lives in an emergency are saved by local people. In the most critical of times, bystanders are often the first to act before a professional arrives.

People with first aid skills and the confidence to use them are heroes, regardless of where and who they are. This idea applies to any disaster: a typhoon affecting thousands or a road accident in the middle of the day.

“Time and again, we see first aid being put into action as the first step in the chain of survival, on the ground saving lives during conflicts, disasters or in everyday crises. But you don’t need to be a medical professional to make a difference,” said Elhadj As Sy, Secretary General of the IFRC. “Our vision and our commitment is that as many people, at any age, can be equipped with life-saving skills in their own community. Most of us have – or will at some time – encounter a situation where first aid is needed. Saving lives is a matter of skills that can be learned by everyone, everywhere.”

First aid is used every day on the ground by Red Cross and Red Crescent staff and volunteers.

In Ukraine, during the recent civil unrest in Kiev, volunteers of the Ukrainian Red Cross Society have been providing first aid support to all parties, helping the injured and those in need. In Kiribati or in the Cook Islands, volunteers of the local Red Cross help train people in  first aid, bridging the gap between the health system and communities. In France and in many other countries, volunteers offer first aid during events and major sporting or musical performances.

The Red Cross Red Crescent has been the world’s leading first aid trainer and provider for more than 100 years. In 2012, more than 14 million people were trained in 77 countries.

"Governments must support first aid training and education in places where people at every age can learn to make a difference – including schools, workplaces and driving programmes," Mr Sy added.

Every five seconds, someone in the world dies as a result of a treatable injury. Disaster fatalities have been rising steadily for the past 20 years, averaging close to 70,000 deaths annually. First aid is a driving force for what the world needs most today: skills that enable people to effectively prepare, respond and recover from crises.

First Aid is a question of life and death. Knowledge and quick action performed by bystanders in the face of a crisis can make the difference. We rely on these everyday heroes to help save lives.

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About the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is the world’s largest volunteer-based humanitarian network, reaching 150 million people each year through our 189 member National Societies. Together, we act before, during and after disasters and health emergencies to meet the needs and improve the lives of vulnerable people. We do so with impartiality as to nationality, race, gender, religious beliefs, class and political opinions. For more information, please visit You can also connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr.

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