Why You Really Need to Maintain Your First Aid Expertise

If you don’t already have CPR and first aid training, it is time to get some. Many first aid courses can be completed in a single afternoon, and investing a little time in one of these fun and rewarding classes will give you skills you can use to save lives. One thing many people don’t realize when they first get certified, however, is that continuing your first aid education is just as important as getting it in the first place. Here are a few reasons why staying in the loop and keeping your first aid skills sharp is totally worth it.

The More You Know

As health care science continues to evolve, so do first aid treatment techniques. Do you remember learning the precordial thump in your first ever first aid class? That technique was abandoned years ago after experts concluded that other aspects of resuscitation were far more effective at preserving life.

In addition to CPR techniques, techniques for bleeding control, treating hypothermia, administering epi-pens, responding to stroke and responding to choking are regularly reevaluated for effectiveness and relevance to first aid. Also, as new medical technologies are introduced, new and better ways to respond to or treat certain health conditions are becoming accessible to lay care providers. Given the rate that modern medicine evolves, refreshing your first aid knowledge and skills every two years is just enough to keep up with the times.

In first aid as in most things, it’s impossible to know it all. Having the most up-to-date knowledge of first aid treatments will make you a better provider, and continuing your education can prepare you to respond in any context — from the dairy aisle of the grocery store to a dive boat hundreds of miles from civilization. Staying updated and continuing your education can also keep you in the clear from a legal liability standpoint; you’ll know exactly what you’re qualified to do, and you’ll remember how to do it.

Use It or Lose It

Imagine you’ve just merged onto the highway and your best friend begins choking on a snack. You completed your first aid training three years ago and you remember how to respond, so you pull over and proceed to give abdominal thrusts and back blows. However, no obstruction is dislodged, and because your friend can no longer breathe she falls unconscious. When you begin rescue breaths, you forget to check for food in her throat and subsequently re-lodge the dislodged piece of food in her airway. Because your skills degraded over time and you forgot one simple step, your best friend’s life is now on the line when she could’ve had just a near-miss.

Skill degradation happens with everything we do, but when it comes to first aid skills the stakes are high. Studies show that first-time students can experience skill degradation just a few weeks after completing a course, and the majority of skills degrade within the first year. Continuing education protocols exist in almost every field, but few are as quick and painless as re-training for first aid and even fewer equip you to save lives with such a small time investment.

First aid training is what you make it, so make it efficient and fun. If you’re on the fence about recertification, take the plunge and avoid the heartache of being unprepared in the event of a real emergency.

To learn more about DAN first aid courses or to find an instructor near you, go to DAN.org/Training/Courses.

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