First Aid Classes

First aid classes teach us how to respond to medical situations in a way that prevents them from becoming bigger, more distressing, situations. In many cases, a fundamental knowledge of first aid is all that's needed to treat an injury or illness but, in other cases, first aid can dramatically reduce damage while emergency medical help is on the way.

A great extent of what's taught in first aid classes may seem like common sense, information that everyone learns along the way without making much effort. It involves a natural response to a situation, such as applying pressure to stop a wound from bleeding. Not every situation is what it appears at first glance, though, and knowing how to discern the difference from a minor medical condition to a major one that presents the same symptoms is one invaluable lesson learned in class.

The first formally developed first aid classes are thought to have been conducted in the 11th century by the Knights Hospitalier, a religious organization founded several hundred years earlier. During the Crusades, when many European Christians made pilgrimages to the Holy Land, the Knights Hospitalier provided care and protection to these pilgrims and they trained other knights how to mend themselves when they became injured in battle.

There is an absence of organized first aid classes in recorded history for several hundred years afterward, until the Battle of Solferino, Italy, in 1859, when France's Napoleon III joined forces with Sardinian Victor Emmanuel II to overcome the army of Austria's Emperor Franz Josef. This battle is notable not only because first aid procedures became organized once again but because it is the last major battle in recorded world history where the commander of each army was actually on the battleground himself.

In 1859 Solferino, a gentleman named Henry Dunant urged local villagers to band together to systematically help victims of the battle, including administering first aid until more in-depth medical care could be rendered.

Just four years after the Battle of Solferino, four nations joined forces in Geneva, Switzerland, to found the internationally recognized Red Cross, the mission of which was to aid ‘sick and wounded soldiers in the field.' More localized organizations soon followed suit, basing their principles on those of the Knights Hospitalier, including the establishment of first aid classes.

The term, first aid, combines the mission of ‘first treatment' with ‘national aid.' The earliest first aid classes were presented to workers in dangerous occupations, such as railways, ports, mining camps, and police forces. One common mission was to teach people how to handle medical emergencies before they occurred.

While industrial accidents increased the value of first aid classes, the knowledge they conveyed became useful in the home, too. Unfortunately, it is the war front where the biggest advances in medical technology have taken place over the span of history and it is the battlefield where organizations such as the American Red Cross came into being.

Affiliate members of the Red Cross offer first aid classes throughout the world today, always emphasizing the importance of learning how to handle a medical emergency before it happens. Many private companies and schools offer first aid classes, too.