Vehicle Extrication Forum For Firefighters

Started by Nick S

First aid training in the USA and the UK follows similar fundamental principles but can have some differences in protocols, guidelines, and organizational standards. Here’s an overview of the key differences and similarities:


1. Core Principles

  • Both emphasize the ABCs (Airway, Breathing, Circulation) in emergency situations.
  • Both follow structured approaches to CPR, burns, choking, and other common first aid scenarios.
  • Training generally includes the use of Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs).

2. Certifying Organisations

  • Both countries have major organisations that provide first aid training, such as the American Red Cross in the USA and St John Ambulance in the UK.
  • The content and quality of training are standardized to ensure consistency and reliability.


1. Guideline Variations

  •    CPR - The number of compressions and breaths in CPR can differ slightly. For instance, the American Heart Association (AHA) in the USA often emphasizes "Hands-Only CPR" for untrained bystanders, while the UK guidelines may more strongly emphasize rescue breaths along with compressions, though this has also been moving towards "Hands-Only" in some cases.
  •    Burns - Both recommend cooling burns with cool running water, but specific nuances in recommended duration or temperature may vary based on regional guidelines.

2. Training and Certification Bodies

  • In the USA, key organizations include the American Red Cross, American Heart Association (AHA), and National Safety Council.
  • In the UK, prominent organizations include St John Ambulance, the British Red Cross, and the Resuscitation Council (UK).

3. Course Structure and Content

  •    The structure and duration of first aid courses can differ. For instance, the Emergency First Response Primary and Secondary Care course in the USA may be structured differently from the UK's equivalent courses.
  • The UK often includes specific training modules on treating sports injuries, workplace-specific first aid (First Aid at Work), and pediatric first aid, aligning with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) requirements.

4. Legal Requirements and Workplace Regulations

  • The UK has specific legal requirements for first aid in the workplace, governed by the Health and Safety (First-Aid) Regulations 1981. Employers must provide appropriate first aid equipment, facilities, and personnel.
  • In the USA, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations also mandate certain first aid requirements in the workplace but can vary significantly between state

First Aid for Specific Conditions


  • In the USA, the Heimlich manoeuvre is widely taught for choking, with clear distinctions between adult and paediatric protocols.
  • In the UK, the emphasis may include back blows and abdominal thrusts, with specific guidelines from the Resuscitation Council UK.


  • Both countries teach direct pressure to stop bleeding, but the UK guidelines may include more emphasis on elevation and the use of tourniquets in severe cases as taught by organizations like St John Ambulance.

While first aid training in the USA and the UK is fundamentally similar and aligned with global best practices, there are distinct differences in the specifics of protocols, training structures, and regulatory requirements. It's essential for first aiders to be trained according to the guidelines relevant to their location and to stay updated with any changes in those guidelines.

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