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What is First Aid?

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Updated June 10, 2014

Question: What is First Aid?
Answer: The answer to this question is not as easy as it seems. "First aid" is a catch-all phrase that refers to two distinctly different medical needs. Training for each is unique. Emergency first aid classes are taught by organizations like the American Red Cross, National Safety Council, and American Heart Association. There are very few classes for non-emergency first aid. It's the kind of thing we learn from mom or the internet.

To get the best out of emergency first aid, it's important to know how and when to summon help. 911 is the preferred method, but misconceptions about calling 911 may make it more difficult than expected. In cases of non-emergency first aid, there are deep wells of information available to help -- like the internet or calling your physician's office.

First Aid at About.com provides information on both types of first aid, without really discerning between the two. There is an assumption that 911 will be called during a bona fide medical emergency. Just in case, however, there are step-by-step instructions here for CPR and other emergency treatments.

You're encouraged to look around About.com First Aid before you actually need any of the information here. Sign up for the free email course on First Aid 101 and follow the weekly lessons. If you have questions, contact the Guide to First Aid or join the discussion on the First Aid Forum. For non-emergency questions, come back for answers whenever you need them.

  1. About.com
  2. Health
  3. First Aid
  4. Basic First Aid
  5. First Aid - Overview and Description

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