In many countries, first aid courses are mandatory in order to obtain a driver’s license, or employers must train a certain number of employees as first aiders (company paramedics). However, these courses can also be attended independently at any time – this is also strongly recommended in order to be able to react correctly in an emergency situation. Likewise, it is recommended to refresh the knowledge again and again so that the first aider can make the right decisions with a high level of self-confidence.
Life-saving immediate measures
n this course, only life-saving immediate measures (LSM) from first aid were taught. The course lasted 4 lessons of 90 minutes each. Since April 1, 2015, the new first aid course (see below) has replaced the previous LSM training. After completing the LSM course, the participant should be able to act as an immediate / first aider at an accident site. In Germany, presentation of the certificate of attendance was a prerequisite for obtaining driver’s license classes AM, A1, A2, A, B, BE, L and T. Older LSM certificates were still valid for obtaining a driver’s license until October 21, 2017; since then, only first aid courses have been accepted. Attendance was also required for obtaining a private pilot’s license (PPL).
A legal obligation to repeat the course is not provided by the Driver’s License Ordinance (FeV § 19 FEV). The Road Traffic Act (§ 2 Para. 2 No. 6 StVG) stipulates that applicants for a driving license must be able to provide first aid. According to general recommendations, the knowledge should be refreshed every 2 to max. 3 years.
First aid course
In this course, the measures for the first aid of vital threatened persons are to be taught. The knowledge that can be acquired here is helpful and even life-saving in many emergencies that can occur in the private and professional environment. To a large extent, this involves respiratory and circulatory emergencies. The treatment of injuries, burns, shock and poisoning is also taught. The duration comprises 9 teaching units of 45 minutes each (before April 1, 2015: 8 teaching units of 90 minutes each).
The course is compulsory in Germany for all driver’s license classes, for the acquisition of the passenger transport license, the youth leader card and for admission to the physics examination. The employers‘ liability insurance associations require repetition every two years, with the repetition training for company first aiders comprising 9 teaching units of 45 minutes each (before April 1, 2015: 4 teaching units of 90 minutes each).
The training in a first aid course imparts, among other things, the following knowledge:
- Behavior at the emergency scene
- First link of the rescue chain: securing, self-protection, emergency call, immediate measures
- Second link of the rescue chain: first aid/other measures in case of:
- Shock as a life-threatening condition
- Wounds and wound care, hemostasis
- Poisoning (e.g., with alcohol, medications, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, pesticides, chemicals, or drugs)
- seizure (epilepsy) and stroke (cerebral infarction)
- thermal injuries (burns, frostbite and hypothermia)
- chemical burns
- insect bites (especially in the mouth and throat)
- violent impact on the head (head injury), concussion
- choking (swallowing of foreign bodies)
- Abdominal injuries, acute abdominal illnesses with nausea and diarrhea or vomiting
- Cardiovascular disorders (cardiac arrest, heart attack, stroke and arrhythmia)
- Bone and joint injuries
- Mental care of the casualty/patient
- Third link in the rescue chain: rescue service
- Fourth link in the rescue chain: hospital
Since 2005, the rescue chain has been specified in four links. The previous separation between the „immediate measures“ and the „emergency call“ has been abolished; the emergency call is made as far as possible in parallel with the other immediate measures.
There is no final examination of the acquired knowledge and the learned practical skills. Only the participation is certified. References to the possibly mental care of traumatized first responders after e.g. serious accidents are not given
Special first aid courses
Meanwhile, many aid organizations and other approved providers offer customized training courses, for example for members of special risk groups:
- First aid in children’s emergencies (for parents, grandparents, educators and other supervisors of children up to approx. 10 years)
- First aid in sports accidents (for sports teachers, exercise instructors, trainers)
- First aid for seniors
- First aid for the disabled
- First aid for cardiovascular patients
- First aid in outdoor areas, including specific courses for first aid in alpine areas
- First aid for seafarers (extended courses that include, for example, placing infusions)
- First aid courses delivered online and introduced during the COVID 19 pandemic
On the other hand, there are courses that are tailored to specific groups of first responders:
- First aid for medical students
- First aid for road traffic
- First aid for company first aiders
- First aid for private and domestic use
- First aid for children, adolescents, mentally or physically handicapped persons
- First aid for soldiers of the German Armed Forces
- First aid for professional trainers of sports associations
Some of these courses are also held in cooperation with schools, kindergartens or facilities for the disabled.
New to the program are the courses „Life-saving immediate measures with self-protection content“ and also „First aid with self-protection content“, which correspond in content to a course in life-saving immediate measures or first aid and have been supplemented with topics from civil and population protection. These courses are only financed 100% by the federal government if the very narrow requirements are met (note: funding is limited). The requirements include a very narrow age range of participants (14 to 16 years) and a maximum of 15 participants per course.
Company first aider
In every company in Germany, a sufficient number of trained company first aiders must be „available“ according to § 10 ArbSchG and specified in § 26 of DGUV Regulation 1. These company first aiders must, as mentioned above, undergo training comprising 9 training units. A suitable refresher course of 9 units must be attended every two years at the latest. Depending on the type of company, between 5 and 10 % first aiders are given as a guideline. A first aider is required for as few as two employees. The use of the first aid kit must be documented in the first aid manual.
Paramedic courses are sometimes offered as general training or serve as training for civil protection (disaster control/civil defense).
For some occupational groups (personal and property protection, for all weapon carriers, for service dog handlers), paramedic training is mandatory. The paramedic training requires a basic training in first aid (usually with at least 9 teaching units). In addition, the employers‘ liability insurance associations stipulate that, depending on the size of the company, an appropriate number of first aiders must be present (from two members of staff). Only licensed physicians and dentists are considered first aiders without any special training. From a certain company size, training as a company paramedic is mandatory (from 1500 staff members present, on construction sites from 100). This training takes considerably longer than a normal first aid course (first aid = 9 teaching units. versus company paramedic training = (at least) 95 teaching units, whereby the latter builds on a first aid course) and also includes the basics of medical assistance. The training is divided into a basic and an advanced course (paramedic, paramedic, paramedic assistant as well as the training to become a nurse and a medical sergeant in the German Armed Forces are recognized as basic training). At least every three years, the company paramedic training must be refreshed by a 16-hour continuing education course. Training and continuing education may only be conducted by so-called authorized bodies. Equivalent to the company paramedics are the so-called remedial assistants according to the mountain ordinances. (Source: Accident Prevention Regulation – DGUV Regulation 1, Principles of Prevention, BGV A1 and Employer’s Liability Insurance Association Principles, BGG 949, published by the German Federation of Institutions for Statutory Accident Insurance and Prevention, as of January 1, 2004)
Courses or vocational training that go far beyond imparting first aid knowledge for first aiders include, for example, courses for on-site helpers (D only), rescue assistants (D only), paramedics (D, Ö) and emergency paramedics (D, Ö). In 2014, the professional training for emergency paramedic replaced that of the paramedic, who could further qualify to this through further training. Information on these training courses can be found under the corresponding keywords. The paramedic and emergency paramedic is a vocational training in Germany. In Austria, this applies to training as a paramedic as well as an emergency paramedic.
The curriculum for the first aid course in Austria has the following structure:
- Why should you give first aid?
- First aid equipment
- Basics of first aid:
- Rescue chain: securing, providing first aid and making an emergency call (in parallel), rescue service, further care
- Tasks of the first aider
- Danger zones, securing, recognizing, requesting special forces
- Emergency call: possibilities, which questions are asked, emergency numbers and other important telephone numbers
- Helmet removal, pull away, rescue (formerly „salvage“) with the hash handle
- Emergency check
- turn over (from prone position to supine position), pull away, get someone onto a blanket
- Basic measures (formerly shock control)
- Positioning while conscious
- Motionless emergency patient
- Emergency check incl. „Emergency diagnosis“.
- Unconsciousness – stable side position
- Respiratory-circulatory arrest: cardiac massage, ventilation, defibrillation
- Acute emergencies – recognize each and initial measures
- Heart attack
- Asthma attack
- Allergic reaction
- Severe bleeding (pressure bandage, finger pressure)
- Head bandage, hand bandage, knee bandage with triangular cloth
- Animal bite
- Foreign body in the wound
- Chemical burn
- Bone and joint injuries
- Arm injury (arm sling)
- Leg injury
Duration and types
The following types of first aid courses are usually offered:
- 16 hours basic course – required for driver’s license D (bus)
- 4 hours refresher course
- 8 hours refresher course
- Children’s emergency courses (4 to 16 hours)
- 6 hours driver’s license course (immediate measures at the scene of an accident) – is required for driver’s license B
- Instruction for defibrillators and various special courses
Company first aider
According to the Workplace Ordinance (AStV), company first aiders must be trained in companies (§ 40 AStV).
In offices or workplaces with a comparable accident risk:
- 1 first aider for up to 29 regularly employed workers at the same time
- 2 first aiders for 30 to 49 employees regularly employed at the same time
- one additional first aider for every 20 additional employees regularly employed at the same time.
in all other workplaces:
- 1 first aider for up to 19 regularly employed workers at the same time
- 2 first aiders for 20 to 29 employees regularly employed at the same time
- one additional first aider for every 10 additional employees regularly employed at the same time.
for construction sites:
- 1 first aider for up to 19 workers employed by an employer on a construction site.
- 2 first aiders for 20 to 29 regularly employed workers
- one additional first aider for every 10 additional workers regularly employed by an employer on a construction site
First responders must have at least 16 hours of training (eight hours in companies with fewer than five employees). An eight-hour refresher must be completed every four years, or alternatively a four-hour refresher every two years.
Providers and offers
In Switzerland, several Swiss Red Cross organizations, namely the Sameriter Schweiz, the Swiss Life Saving Society (SLRG) and the Swiss Military Medical Association offer first aid courses on a non-commercial basis. The second major provider, the Swiss Medical Corps – an association of doctors, paramedics and trainers – mostly works with commercial partners (mainly driving instructors, Migros Club School, TCS).
The Inter Association for Rescue (IVR) certifies and standardizes a large part of the training courses. As an example, an overview of the courses offered by the Samaritan Association:
|Course||Content||Target group||Duration of the course (in hours)||Validity period of the ID card (in years)||Prerequisite|
|Emergency helper course||According to Art. 10 VZV: securing the accident site, alerting, preservation of vital bodily functions, positioning of the injured person, ventilation, severe bleeding, basics of cardiac massage.||Learner drivers (categories A, A1, B and B1) must have a valid ID card||10||6||none|
|First aider IVR 1||General first aid in everyday situations (traffic, household, workplace, leisure) and correct alerting. The first aider can implement instructions from the emergency call center according to the situation. Participants will also receive certificates for the emergency responder course and BLS-AED-SRC.||general||14||2(respectively 6 and 3)||none|
|First aider IVR 2||Formerly known as the „Samaritan Course.“ Deepens and expands first responder IVR 1, including: Assessing, providing initial care, and observing accidental bodily injury and acute illness until professional help arrives; assessing whether and what professional help needs to be called for; level-appropriate classification of hazardous situations.||z. e.g. youth group leaders, sports coaches, part-time company paramedics||14||2||IVR 1 or emergency responder + BLS-AED-SRC|
|First aider IVR 3||Link to professional rescue. Differentiated situation assessment, best possible care of the patient based on available resources. Assists emergency physician and paramedic.||z. e.g. part-time or full-time company paramedics||42||1||IVR 2|
|BLS-AED-SRC||Ventilation, cardiac massage and use of a defibrillator according to the guidelines of the Swiss Resuscitation Council.||in general, but especially relatives of heart patients, police officers, firefighters, fitness instructors||4||3||none|
|Emergencies in young children||Hazard recognition, patient assessment, ingestion of objects, resuscitation.||Parents, childcare workers||4||unlimited||none|
|First aid part of the CZV course||According to annex CZV, number 3.5: situation assessment, avoidance of secondary accidents, alerting, rescue and first aid, behavior/evacuation in case of fire, procedure in case of violence, preparation of accident reports.||Compulsory for persons who professionally drive vehicles in categories C, C1, D or D1.||2 X 8||5||none (de facto emergency helper course, due to previous learning license category B)|
If repeat courses are attended within the period of validity, the validity is extended. There is no obligation to repeat courses, but employers (in the case of company paramedics), sports associations or youth organizations, for example, insist that first aiders have a valid card in each case.
Specialized first aid courses are offered by:
- SLRG: Accidents during bathing, swimming and water sports
- Swiss Alpine Club: Emergencies in mountain sports
The Military First Aid Association of Berne was founded in 1880 to provide first aid services at major civilian events (e.g. gymnastics and shooting festivals). In 1885, also in Bern, the first Samaritan Association was founded, and in 1888 the Swiss Samaritan Federation. Since 1965, Samaritan associations have offered emergency courses to the public, and since 1977, attendance at an emergency course has been compulsory for learner drivers. The Samaritan Association introduced resuscitation courses in 1993.
In Switzerland, there is no more precise legal regulation of industrial hygiene; the law stipulates that, depending on the operational hazards, location and size of the operation, the „necessary means“ must be available and that, if necessary, trained industrial paramedics and first-aid rooms must be available. For judicial practice (e.g. liability issues), the guidelines of the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) and those of the various industry associations are binding.