First Aid: A Study Guide for Basic First Aid Class

First aid administration depends on the situation a patient is facing. It's essential to ensure you have a fully stocked first-aid kit to deal with a wide range of medical emergencies. You also need to learn the correct actions to take in case of burns, bleeding, shock, frostbite, and other injuries.

This Basic First Aid study guide was created to give you an overview of what to learn in the First Aid Certification course and ensure that you're ready for your certification exam. This quick study guide is easy to use and provides a variety of visual aids and text-based information vital for your success on the course. It also includes the latest information from the American Heart Association and Emergency Cardiovascular Care.
Topics included are as follows:

  • What is First Aid
  • Emergency Action Steps
  • Types of Wounds
  • Bleeding
  • Shock
  • Poisoning
  • Muscle Injuries
  • Fractures/Broken Bones
  • Sudden Illnesses
  • Stroke
  • Respiratory Arrest
  • Hypoglycemia

Key Takeaway

We take safety precautions in our lives every day, but emergencies can always arise. For this reason, it is essential to have first aid skills so you can be prepared to respond if an accident were to occur. Anyone can apply First Aid skills in the home, the workplace, or in public locations. Therefore, the more First Aid certified people there are in a community, the safer that community becomes. CPR Select offers online First Aid training typically completed in 1 hour, depending on which format you choose. Once you have completed the first aid class, you will be able to get a certificate that will allow you to respond to a wide range of medical emergencies.

Chapter 1: What is First Aid?

First Aid is the medical attention given to an ill or injured person before the emergency medical services team arrives on the scene. The First Aid Certification course aims to provide participants with basic First Aid skills that will allow them to make a sound decisions in the face of an emergency. At CPR Select, we always follow the most recent and updated American Heart Association and Emergency Cardiovascular Care guidelines to help you acquire the skills you will need to respond to an emergency effectively.

Chapter 2: What are the Emergency Action Steps?

As a first aid provider, you must approach a situation with calm and systematic actions. By preparing an emergency action plan in advance, the rescuer has a structure to follow when emergencies arise. The rescuer controls the situation, keeps them out of danger, and prevents further injuries by following this sequence.
First Aid responses should follow this sequence:

  • Assess the situation.
  • Make the area safe.
  • Access the victims and provide Aid.
  • Seek medical attention.

Chapter 3: What are the Types of Wounds?

Open Chest Wounds
Open chest wounds may be left open. Dress the chest wound with a sterile pad and apply direct pressure to stop the bleeding. Extreme care is needed when treating open chest wounds so the dressing doesn't become saturated with blood. 

Punctured Wounds
Punctured wounds refer to injuries that involve puncture of the skin, which can be severe. Extreme care should be taken to avoid infection. Call 911 for specific emergency assistance with how to proceed if the wound has excessive bleeding. If the patient falls unconscious or becomes non-responsive without a pulse, contact 911 and perform CPR.

Amputations involve the accidental loss of one or more limbs. You should treat amputations promptly due to the risk of severe blood loss. Remember to remain calm and describe the nature of the amputation to the emergency response operator when calling for assistance.

Cut and Scrapes
These wounds can be minor or severe, depending on the trauma to the skin. Typically, the biggest concern with cuts and scrapes is the bleeding.

Chapter 4: How to Control Bleeding?

Most bleeding are not life-threatening, but there are incidents of severe bleeding that can result in death if not controlled immediately. Here's how you can control the bleeding:

  • Identify the source of the bleeding.
  • If blood is spurting, an artery has likely been cut.
  • Apply direct pressure to stop bleeding.
  • If the wound is in the victim's belly and organs are visible, do not try to put the organs back into the abdomen.
  • Cover the wound with a clean dressing
  • Apply pressure to control the bleeding and get the victim to medical care.

Chapter 5: What is Shock?

Shock can be caused by blood loss or loss of body fluids, as may occur following untreated severe vomiting or diarrhea. Symptoms of shock may include disorientation, loss of consciousness, confusion, dazed look, dilated pupils, paleness, weak pulse, shallow breathing, extreme thirst, nausea, and vomiting.

Treatments for Shock

  • Call 911 if you notice any shock symptoms.
  • Keep the victim still and don't move unless necessary.
  • Elevate the victim's feet about 12 inches unless the head, neck, or back is injured.
  • If the person shows no signs of life, begin CPR.
  • Don't let the victim eat or drink anything.

Chapter 6: What are Burns?

Burns are classified into three categories, with increasing seriousness.

  • First Degree Burn - It affects only the epidermis or outer layer of the skin. This burn causes mild redness, swelling, and pain. 
  • Second Degree Burn - It affects both the upper layer of the skin and the skin underneath it. Some specific symptoms of this burn include redness, swelling, pain, and blistering.
  • Third Degree Burn This is the most severe type of burn that destroys the deep layers of the skin. This can lead to numb skin and white or blackened skin.

Treatment for Burns:

  • Remove clothing or any material covering the injury.
  • For minor burns, flood the area with cool water for at least ten minutes.
  • Cover the burn with a sterile dressing, free from oils and grease.
  • Prevent foreign materials from entering the burned area.
  • Treat pain associated with the burn.
  • Monitor the victim for signs of shock.
  • Use cool, moist gauze or bandages to treat the injury in minor thermal burns.
  • Use a tape to secure moist gauze over burned eyes. Use dry bandages for more severe thermal burns.
  • Seek additional medical attention for severe burns.

Chapter 7: What is Poisoning?

Poison can cause injury, illness, or death if it enters the body. There are poisons that are harmful if you breathe or swallow them, while others are harmful upon direct contact. Signs and Symptoms of poison include burning around the eyes, lips, and tongue, irregular pupil size, chest or abdominal pain, diarrhea, hallucinations, nausea and vomiting, skin color change, seizures, headache, dizziness, weakness, and troubled breathing.


  1. Keep an eye out for signs of poison like leaking containers, gases, etc.
  2. Get a First Aid kit and wear PPE.
  3. Call 911 and the National Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222. 
  4. Remove the poison if possible. 
  5. Remove any contaminated material or clothing and brush off solid substances.
  6. Rinse the contaminated area for at least 20 minutes. 
  7. If CPR is required, wear a breathing barrier to protect yourself from possible exposure to the poison.

Chapter 8: How to treat Muscle Injuries?

Muscles can be injured in three ways. There can be strains, ruptures, or deep bruising. A strain occurs when a muscle is overstretched, resulting in a small tear or pull. It's a rupture when a muscle is completely torn.Bruising occurs when blood pools into a muscle. Seek medical attention if the injury seems serious.

Use the RICE procedure to treat Muscle Injury:

  • Rest the injured area.
  • Ice the injury.
  • Compress the injured muscle with a soft towel or elastic bandage.
  • Elevate the injury to reduce blood flow and minimize swelling and bruising.

Chapter 9: How to Treat Broken Bones/Fractures?

Immediate first Aid is crucial for broken bones. Moving the injured bones may increase pain and bleeding. Also, it may lead to tissue damage.

Treatment for Open Fractures:

  • Cover the wound with a clean dressing and apply pressure to control bleeding.
  • Do not attempt to push fractured bones back inside the limb.
  • Immobilize the injury.
  • Use a sling to support an arm injury against the trunk. Additional bandages can be used to support the sling.
  • Bandages can be used to support an injured leg against the uninjured one.
  • If the injured limb is bent in a way that prevents immobilization, traction is necessary.
  • Be sure to support the injury while the splint is being applied. Breaks in the lower leg bones require two splints, one on each side of the leg.
  • Elevate the injury to prevent swelling.
  • Call 911 and monitor for signs of shock.
  • Do not move the victim until the wound is immobilized unless the victim is in a dangerous location. Do not allow to eat or drink.

Treatment for Closed Fractures:

A closed fracture involves a damaged bone that is contained within the skin. Although the break is not visible, the internal injury may cause swelling.

  • Keep the victim still and calm.
  • Immobilize the injury.
  • Apply gentle pressure to minimize internal bleeding.
  • Call 911.
  • Monitor for open circulation below any bandages. Loosen bandages if necessary.
  • Do not move the victim until the wound is immobilized unless the victim is in a dangerous location.
  • Do not try to put a dislocated bone back into its socket.

Chapter 10: What is the First Aid for Sudden Illness?

Some common sudden illnesses are seizures, diabetic emergency, stroke, allergic reaction, and poisoning. These sudden illnesses require rescuers to act fast to discover the cause of the illness and begin treatment.

Treatment for Sudden Illness:

  • Make sure the victim is safe. Move dangerous elements away from the victim.
  • Call 911.
  • Assess the victim to gather information about their symptoms.
  • Monitor the victim's airway, breathing, and circulation. Be prepared to resuscitate.
  • Treat other symptoms, such as vomiting, as they occur.
  • Keep the victim comfortable. Prevent the victim from becoming chilled or overheated.
  • Do not give food or drinks unless the victim is fully conscious.

Chapter 11: What is Stroke?

A stroke is a condition where blood flow to a section of the brain is seriously interrupted by a ruptured artery or blood clot. Older adults, those suffering from high blood pressure, and those with circulatory disorders are at a greater risk for stroke. Major strokes can be fatal, while many people recover from minor strokes. The severity depends on the location of the brain and the size of the affected area. If you noticed any signs and symptoms of stroke, remember FAST:

  • Face: Ask the person to smile. Look for droopiness on one side of the face.
  • Arms: Ask the person to raise both arms to check for limb weakness.
  • Speech: Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence. Listen for distorted speech.
  • Time: If the person has difficulty with any of the above tasks, note when the symptoms began.

Chapter 12: What is Respiratory Arrest?

Respiratory arrest is the stoppage of oxygen throughout the body. Failure of the lungs to deliver oxygen can result in death if left untreated. In addition, a lack of oxygen to the brain will cause a loss of consciousness and lead to death.

Treatment: Immediate action is essential for the chances of survival in Respiratory Arrest. Artificial ventilation treatment is the standard emergency action. Call 911 and perform CPR immediately.

Chapter 13: What is Hypoglycemia?

Hypoglycemia results from low blood sugar. Symptoms include anxiety, fatigue, heart palpitations, hunger, irritability, pale skin, shakiness, sweating, and a tingling sensation around the mouth. Symptoms may vary from person to person. As it worsens, a victim will feel abnormal behavior, unconsciousness, seizures, blurred vision, confused state of mind, and unable to perform routine tasks.


  • For symptomatic victims, provide a rapid clinical relief with oral glucose tablets.
  • If no glucose tablets are available, give the victim other foods and liquids containing sugars such as fructose, sucrose, and oligonucleotides.
  • These can effectively reverse mild symptomatic hypoglycemia. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What questions should you ask before giving first aid and why?

First, tell the victim who you are, how much training you have, such as First Aid or CPR/AED, what you think is wrong and what you plan to do. Then ask if you may give emergency care.

Why is airway the first priority?

The airway is the priority in managing severely injured patients to allow free air access to the distal endobronchial tree. 

How wide should a tourniquet be?

A tourniquet should be wide and thick enough to prevent injury to the limb. It should be two to four inches wide to evenly distribute the pressure around the limb. 

What is the OSHA requirement for first aid kits?

OSHA does not require specific first aid kits for the general industry but states, "Adequate first aid supplies shall be readily available."

Do First Aid Kits expire?

Items in First Aid Kits have expiration dates and need to be replaced once they reach that date. Expired tapes and bandages may no longer be able to stick to the skin and may no longer be sterile.