Often when one decides to seek out first aid training, it is because their employer or organization requires them to. It is common in these circumstances that a ‘certified’ first aid course is needed by the employer or organization.
This may be so as to ensure a certain standard of training is provided to students in a consistent fashion, or it may stem from the belief that there may be legal consequences to not having employees or members trained through a certified program. As well, there may be concerns over being sued for providing first aid despite not having training from an accredited course or instructor.
Further, professional healthcare provider organizations such as for Paramedics, Nurses, or Medical Doctors, may require that their advanced first aid or advanced life support courses meet certain accreditation standards as continuing education for these professions. For example, the Commission on Accreditation for Pre-Hospital Continuing Education (CAPCE) accredits EMS courses including Advanced First Aid and CPR courses for Paramedical professionals. However, if you are a layperson who is not a medical professional, you don’t need to worry about whether your course is accredited or not unless your employer or organization demands certain standards (such as an AHA course).
Employers and organizations often require their staff to take accredited first aid courses for purposes of employment or participation. This may be due to a desire to have consistent teaching or to ward off perceived legal liability. Professionals in health care may be required to take advanced first aid-type courses that count as their education or continuing education and therefore must be accredited. If you aren’t a medical professional and if you’re employer doesn’t specify what first aid courses you need to take, you don’t need to worry about it. Of course, always do your homework on the reviews people gave the first aid training program and what they teach you so as to get the most value out of your training.
The myth of accreditation
Although there are many well-established and authoritative organizations, such as the American Heart Association (AHA), that have scientific committees who review evidence and make recommendations on first aid training programs, any individual or organization can freely choose to accept or reject these. That is because there is no organization in existence in the United States that provides a national endorsement or approval for a first aid training program. First aid courses have not been legislated to require accreditation by an authority in order to provide a first aid course, and no organization exists that provides actual accreditation that has any legal meaning or standing.
There exists no legal authority that accredits first aid courses. Organizations such as the AHA provide first aid training and course guidelines, and anyone can choose to follow the guidelines or not to follow them, and anyone has a right to teach first aid whether or not they follow published guidelines.
Can I get sued if I provide first aid to someone without having received accredited first aid training?
To be clear, anyone can sue anyone for almost anything. However, in the US legal system and most legal systems, there exist safeguards to prevent frivolous (of no merit) lawsuits from going forward.
The real question is can you be successfully sued for providing first aid to someone, and the answer is that it is extremely unlikely that you would be sued successfully. The legal system imposes strict elements that must be proven in order to successfully sue someone over providing first aid or CPR. In order to have grounds for suing someone it must be proven that:
1. The accused (person performing first aid or CPR) had a legal duty to the accuser (person who received first aid or CPR) under the circumstances
2. The accused violated that legal duty by acting or not acting in a certain way
3. The accused actions (or inactions) actually caused the accuser’s injury
4. The accuser was injured or harmed due to the accused’s actions
To be clear: ALL FOUR OF THE ABOVE must be proven in court in order to successfully win a lawsuit against a person who performed first aid or CPR in the United States of America. However, make sure that you look into the specific legalities in your own country and always consult a lawyer if you are in a legal situation.
With regards to being sued for providing first aid without having taken an ‘accredited’ or ‘certified’ course, there is a standard in place in the Common Law legal system which considers neglect or negligence by comparing a person’s actions to the actions of a Reasonable Person with similar education, training, and experience.
This means that if a medical doctor provided first aid he would be judged against the actions of a reasonable person who had his advanced medical training. However, your typical first aid provider who is not a doctor and who did a first aid course his friend recommended but that did not follow the AHA recommendations and was not accredited would be compared against another reasonable person who also did an unaccredited first aid course that did not follow the AHA recommendations.
In other words, a first aid provider would not be faulted for having taken one first aid course over another course if he did end up getting sued for whatever reason.
It is exceedingly difficult to get sued for providing first aid or CPR in the United States and many other countries have similar laws to protect those wishing to help others by providing first aid or CPR. There are no grounds to sue based on having taken one first aid course over another, whether accredited or not, because the law would only judge the actions of a first aider against someone of similar experience and training. The specific first aid course you took does not matter as far as the law is concerned.
DISCLAIMER: The above was provided for informational purposes only. We are not lawyers nor seek to provide legal advice to you and if you have legal questions you should consult a license lawyer or attorney at law.
So how do I choose which First Aid Course to take?
As mentioned, officially there are no accredited first aid courses although some organizations do claim to provide accredited courses while many others are falsely regarded as being accredited or acting as an accreditor.
However, that does not mean that all first aid courses are the same!
There’s many first aid courses available to you to choose from. To start, there are online first aid courses and in-person first aid courses. Now, which do you choose? Well, it is very difficult to expect to be able to perform first aid without at all having practiced it first. Hence, for first-time first aiders it would be best to take an in-person course in order to learn the motions and get a chance to practice your skills and ensure you are doing them correctly.
However, if you are only re-certifying or doing a refresher, it may be appropriate to take an online course and there are many online first aid courses available to choose from.
In general an approach that involves reviewing the organization’s website to determine professionalism and quality of content and offerings, a search of testimonials or reviews about the organization online, and learning about their curriculum and what exactly they teach will allow one to make an informed decision about which organization would be best for them.
As well, there are many different types of first aid courses depending on one’s needs and intentions. For example, there exist first aid course categories such as
- Childcare first aid
- Advanced first aid
- Basic first aid
- Remote first aid
- Wildlife first aid
- Any many others!
A review of what exactly you want to get out of your first aid course and what you will use the skills for will help you determine what it is that you need exactly, and many organizations offer descriptions on what exactly you will learn on any given first aid course.
Here is a list of some reputable first aid training providers you may consider:
American Red Cross: https://www.redcross.org/take-a-class/first-aid/first-aid-training/first-aid-online
Offers online classes and in-person training
St John Ambulance: http://stjohn.ab.ca/first-aid-and-cpr-courses/emergency-standard-and-advanced-first-aid-courses/
Offers a variety of online classes and in-person training courses from beginner to advanced
National Safety Council: https://www.nsc.org/safety-training/first-aid/courses
Offers a wide range of first aid courses that are both in-person and online courses at various skill levels
American Heart Association: https://cpr.heart.org/AHAECC/CPRAndECC/Training/HeartsaverCourses/HeartsaverFirstAid/UCM_476846_Heartsaver-First-Aid-Courses.jsp
Offer a range of online first aid courses and in-person training, as well as blended-type courses with online and in-person components
There are many more and I would recommend you do an online search for local providers as there often exist quality and reputable local organizations that provide first aid training.
The other benefit of using a local first aid group is that they would be most familiar with the hazards specific to your area. For example, frost bite first aid may not be important at all for those living in Florida, Whereas stingray bite or jellyfish sting first aid would be.
Are there free online resources?Yes! There is a multitude of free online resources in order to inform oneself about first aid skills and training. Here is a list of free resources you can access to brush up on your first aid skills or start learning anew:
First Aid Powerpoint Presentations: http://www.firstaidpowerpoint.org/first-aid-powerpoint-presentations/
A variety of Free Online First Aid Courses: http://www.firstaidforfree.com/free-online-first-aid-courses/
A collection of First Aid Training Resources: http://www.firstaidforfree.com/first-aid-training-resources/
St John Ambulance Comprehensive Collection of First Aid PDF Files: https://www.stjohnambulance.com.au/online-resources/first-aid-information-and-resources
Mayo Clinic Resources on First Aid: https://www.mayoclinic.org/first-aid
KidsHealth Comprehensive First Aid Resources for Parents: https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/firstaid-safe/
FirstAidWeb offers a collection of concise First Aid Informational Pages: http://www.firstaidweb.com/first_aid.php