What is first aid, the three P's

Have you been on a first aid course; can you answer this simple question: What is first aid?

Even a first aid instructor must attend a first aid course every three years, consequently I have been on quite a few in my time. I go to many different organisations; private and the larger charitable ones. While the delivery methods differ considerably the syllabus is pretty much the same. (May I add that the syllabus is still determined by the Health and Safety Executive). One question is consistent in its absence on all the courses I have attended and that is what is first aid?

First aid is the immediate temporary care of the ill and or injured. Everything we do in first aid is temporary.

  • Immediate – We are there when needed
  • Temporary – someone will change any dressing or give longer lasting treatment
  • Care – We care for a casualty the best we can

The next logical question is What is the purpose of first aid?

In first aid we talk about the three P’s

  • Preserve life – prevent the casualty from dying (if possible)
  • Prevent worsening – Stop the casualty from being injured further
  • Promote recovery – ensure the casualty gets help

In short first aid is the immediate temporary care of the ill and injured, we do this by preserving life, prevent worsening and thus promote recovery.

Knowing the what and why’s forms the foundation on which all the other skills can be built. The accident procedure is there to help us, to help the casualty by use of the three P’s. Check an airway will assist you in preserving life which in turn prevents worsening and promotes recovery. The same can be said of breathing, circulation and damage (if needed).

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What is first aid?

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