History of First Aid Before Red Cross

First aid is defined as the provision of initial care for an illness or injury or “the immediate care of the injured or ill”. The main goal in administering first aid is to help and/ or assist the injured or ill person without doing or causing further damage. First aid is usually done by trained personnel to a sick or injured person until the paramedics arrive to provide medical treatment. More often than not, first aid is performed to self-limiting illnesses or minor injuries that may not need further medical care after the first aid has been provided. Generally it consists of both a series of simple and potentially life-saving techniques. Any capable person can be trained to perform first aid at any situation with minimal equipment. First aid usually refers to the care of human patients and in some cases, to animals as well.

Surely by necessity, prehistoric men developed methods to treat illnesses and injuries that came about in their every day life. For example, the probably learned that applying direct pressure to plug an open wound, using clean leaves maybe, would eventually stop bleeding. Another good example could be that if a person had a broken leg, lashing a tree branch to the broken leg would allow and help the injured to limp around until it would eventually heal. Even the idea of going to a nearby river to wash off an open bleeding wound with running water to prevent the wound from getting worse is a high probability that the prehistoric men did to deal with wounds.

According to records, the first recorded history of first aid was provided by a religious order of knights. They were called the Knights Hospitaller or more commonly known as the Order of St. John, the origin of St. John Ambulance. Formed in the 11th century, this group of people provided care to pilgrims and knights. They also informally started an institution by training other knights how to treat common battlefield injuries during the crusades. In 1792, the French Army Surgeon General formed the first official army medical corps. They formed a group of people who went through training so that they can be equipped to provide care and work anywhere outside and away from the field hospitals. Their task was to administer first aid on the battlefield and if on worse conditions of the casualty, to remove the injured from the battle area and bring them to the nearest field hospital using carts or by manually carrying them.

In 1859, a Swiss man named Jean Henri Dunant started a work on first aid after having witnessed soldiers of both sides of the war suffering and dying from extreme injuries on the battlefield during the Battle of Solferino. It did not take long after that wherein the idea of training civilians or any capable individual to provide “pre-medical treatment” came up, which was pitched in by an army surgeon.

A few years later, in the 1860’s, four nations met in Geneva and formed the organization which is now known as the workplace approved. This is where the first Geneva Convention happened and the International workplace approved was conceived with a key stated aim of “aid to sick and wounded soldiers in the field”.

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