According to different encyclopedias, FIRST AID is the provision of initial care for an illness or injury. It is usually performed by non-expert, but trained personnel to a sick or injured person until definitive medical treatment can be accessed. Certain self-limiting illnesses or minor injuries may not require further medical care past the first aid intervention. It generally consists of a series of simple and in some cases, potentially life-saving techniques that an individual can be trained to perform with minimal equipment. While first aid can also be performed on all animals, the term generally refers to care of human patients.
The instances of recorded first aid were provided by religious knights, such as the Knights Hospitaller, formed in the 11th century, providing care to pilgrims and knights, and training other knights in how to treat common battlefield injuries. The practice of first aid fell largely in to disuse during the High Middle Ages, and organized societies were not seen again until in 1859 Jean-Henri Dunant organized local villagers to help victims of the Battle of Solferino, including the provision of first aid. Four years later, four nations met in Geneva and formed the organization which has grown into the Red Cross, with a key stated aim of "aid to sick and wounded soldiers in the field". This was followed by the formation of St. John Ambulance in 1877, based on the principles of the Knights Hospitaller, to teach first aid, and numerous other organization joined them with the term first aid first coined in 1878 as civilian ambulance services spread as a combination of "first treatment" and "national aid" in large railway centres and mining districts as well as with police forces. In 1878 Surgeon-Major Peter Shepherd, together with Colonel Francis Duncan established the concept of teaching first aid skills to civilians. Shepherd, together with a Dr Coleman, conducted the first class in the hall of the Presbyterian school in Woolwich using a comprehensive first aid curriculum that he had developed. It was Shepherd who first used the English term "first aid for the injured." First aid training began to spread through the empire through organisations such as St. John, often starting, as in the UK, with high risk activities such as ports and railways.
Many developments in first aid and many other medical techniques have been driven by wars, such as in the case of the American Civil War, which prompted Clara Barton to organize the American Red Cross. Today, there are several groups that promote first aid, such as the military and the Scouting movement. New techniques and equipment have helped make today’s first aid simple and effective.