First Aid

Ever thought what you would do if you were first on the scene of a Road Traffic Accident or if a family member was taken ill. We hope it never happens but it is likely that at some point you will be confronted with a situation, where knowledge of First Aid will be useful.

It helps if you instinctively know what to do and are trained in the crucial skills to maintain life for a casualty in what are often the vital first few seconds and minutes of a real medical emergency. First Aid skills are therefore of immense value, not just for cadets when out on a remote expedition, but in the workplace or home. The National Press have covered a number of stories, where cadets from around the country have stepped in to save lives – using skills they have acquired through their first aid training.

First Aid is also a training requirement of other Air Cadet activities, for example The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. Part of which requires the participants to be fully proficient for an expedition or exploration lasting from between two to five days (depending on level). This includes being able to deal with a potential incident and promote well-being at both individual and team level.

Courses may be delivered over a weekend or in separate stages on normal parade nights and progressive in nature.

A number of first aid qualifications may be provided by the squadron, or available at wing or regional level and may count toward the attainment of cadet classifications at First Class, Leading and Senior Cadet level.

Courses are assessed by a practical exam, where cadets usually have to deal with three situations: a conscious, breathing casualty; an unconscious, breathing casualty; and an unconscious non-breathing casualty, involving CPR on a Resusci Anne manequin.

Many Cadets first experience first aid at First Class level, where the ‘Heartstart’ course is normally available. This is a basic first aid course in Emergency Life Support, coordinated by the British Heart Foundation

Cadets will also normally have an opportunity to undertake a Youth First Aid Course. Numerous first aid topics are covered such as fainting, bleeding, head injuries and bites and stings. They are taught by qualified staff, often qualified to the level of First Aid at Work. Upon completion, cadets receive a red Youth First Aid badge for their uniform to mark their achievement as well as a certificate.

The HeartStart Programme from the British Heart Foundation concentrates on emergency life-saving techniques. Increasingly every cadet is being taught the HeartStart syllabus as part of their First Class classification training.

This short course (approximately six hours) is normally split over a couple of parade nights or a weekend. The aim of the course is to provide basic training in the following:

assessing an unconscious patient,
performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR),
dealing with choking,
serious bleeding,
helping someone that may be having a heart attack,
placing someone in the recovery position.

These basic skills are essential for every cadet. By undertaking the HeartStart course you will have the knowledge of how to handle an emergency situation. Cadets who complete this course are awarded the HeartStart certificate. The HeartStart course will give you plenty of hands on practice dealing with bandages and the training doll. This training is not only a great way to ensure you can help in many situations but also a great way to move on and learn more about First Aid training.

Cadets may also chose to undertake the St John Ambulance Activity First Aid Course, a much more detailed course for more senior cadets over the age of sixteen. Upon completing this course cadets will receive a green Activity First Aid badge for their uniform. In the case a cadet already wears a Young Lifesaver Plus badge, the Activity First Aid badge should be sewn in its place.

Completion of the Activity First Aid Course trains cadets to the level of first aid required for many adult ‘outdoor’ qualifications such as the Mountain Leader Award. The qualification also assists in making it possible for cadets to teach the Youth First Aid course to less experienced cadets, including use of the Resusci-Annie Mannequin.


In addition to the practical advantages of first aid training, there are first aid competitions run at all levels which enable cadets to really put their practical knowledge and skills to the test.

There are regular competitions within the Region where the cadet’s first aid skills are assessed. Cadets will be presented with an incident and be asked to deal with it. The simulated situation could be anything from a road traffic accident, a work place injury, an injured walker or many other incidents that you may come across.

The Cadets are assessed to see how well they deal with the situation, their basic first aid skills, be that putting on a plaster to performing CPR, and how they work as a team.

Competitions and simulations allow the cadets to put into practice what they have learnt previously and also see what a real life situation may involve. We all hope they never need these skills or find themselves in one of these situations, but these events allow cadets to prepare, just in case!

Cadets who wish to progress further with first aid qualifications can undertake the more in-depth St John Ambulance Youth First Aider Award (which may also count as an element in their Leading/Senior Cadet classification examination and towards a skill as part of a Duke of Edinburgh Award). It also builds on the knowledge obtained in the HeartStart course.

The YFA course provides a basic introduction to first aid and gives students grounding in managing an incident and the most commonly needed basic life-saving skills and helps to reinforce earlier learning. It consists of approximately 6-12 hours training and is tutor assessed.

The course covers the following areas:

Communication and casualty care
Coping in an emergency
Primary survey
Recovery position
Bites and stings
Bleeding (minor)
Bleeding and shock
Burns and scalds
Foreign objects
Bone, muscle and joint injuries
Chest pains
Electric shock

On completion of the above training cadets sit an assessment to test their understanding. This test usually involves showing that they are competent at administering CPR; can deal with an unconscious casualty and one other scenario. The assessor will be looking not only to see how well they can treat the above simulations but also how they interact with the casualty and deal with the scene of the emergency.

Successful cadets are are awarded a certificate and are entitled to wear the St John Ambulance Youth First Aid badge on their uniform.

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