How to Choose the Best First Aid Training Course

First-aid Certification Class in San Jose, CA

American Heart Association First-aid Class

San Jose First-aid responders play a critical role in the larger system of emergency medical care within any community. From the first recognition of a problem, a well-trained responder can quickly assess the situation, initiate calls for help, and then focus on caring for the victim until medical care arrives.

Becoming a skilled and confident first-aid responder requires training, but just what kind of training? How do you select from among the many first-aid training courses available?  Here are four key questions to help you select a first aid training course that best fits your needs.

Training Population: Who is going to receive first-aid training and why?

Context: Where will your first aid responders serve and who will they serve?

Competencies: What competencies do the trainees need once they finish training? What do you want them to be able to do

Requirements: What kinds of requirements or certifications must the training meet?

Let’s take a look at each question in more detail.

1. Training population: Who is going to receive First-Aid Training?

First-aid courses are available to meet the learning needs of a wide range of trainees, from children, to skilled medical personnel. The age and prior knowledge of trainees determine whether you need an introductory course or a more advanced skills course. Educational levels and English proficiency are also factors to be considered when choosing first-aid training.

Action: Write down the characteristics of the people you are going to train, including:

  • the number of persons to be trained
  • age range
  • educational levels; and
  • prior knowledge or training in first-aid


2. Context: Where and who will your first-aid providers serve?

First aid training should be context-specific. This means that the training content and topics should closely match the needs of the setting and the population your first-aid providers are likely to serve.  For example, if you are training teenaged babysitters for the church nursery, you probably won’t need for them to know how to use external defibrillators.  However, if you are training volunteers for a marathon, defibrillator training would be entirely appropriate.

Action: Brainstorm all of the possible emergencies your first-aid trainees might need to respond to, and all of the types of people they might need to help.

3. What do the trainees need to be able to do once they finish training?

First aid training should be context specific and competency-based.  Competency-based training means that the trainees can act in an emergency, versus just “knowing stuff”. It is not necessary for you to try to list every competency for first aid training. But you do need to be able to recognize whether the content of different training vendors meets your particular needs.

The most basic first aid training should cover the following topics:

1. First aid concepts

  • Definition of first aid
  • The role and responsibilities of the first aid provider
  • Basic hygiene in emergencies
  • Situational assessment
  • Who to contact for various types of emergencies in your specific area
  • Steps for the first responder to follow
  • First aid kits and what they should contain

2. First aid responses to persons who

  • may have been electrocuted
  • are unconscious
  • have broken bones
  • have open wounds, bleeding or shock
  • are choking
  • have minor injuries
  • have eye injuries

The rest of the content should address the types of incidents likely to occur in your particular setting.

Action: Conduct an online search of training providers who offer training for your specific context. Compare and contrast course content, and decide if it is competency-based.  Will trainees be able to ACT after training?

4.  Requirements: What types of requirements or certifications need to be met?

First-aid training is often required to meet requirements or regulations.  For example, high school athletic coaches are required by law to know how to use external defibrillators on the athletic field. Make sure that you have identified all external regulations and requirements for your first aid training.

Action:  Identify any certification or legal requirements for first aid training.

Putting it all together: Selecting the course and vendor

Once you have brainstormed your requirements, you are ready to evaluate first-aid training courses and vendors.  With so many courses and vendors to choose from, the work you do upfront to understand your training needs will pay off in finding training that best fits those needs. San Jose CPR Certification provides American Heart Association First-aid certification courses in Santa Clara County. Or call the American Heart Association for more information at 408-724-9985

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