The website dedicated to

first aid education

Subscribe to the newsletter

Latest newsletter


First aid for a safer future, focus on Europe

Published on 10/09/2009

Many Europeans do not receive first aid training at a time when the continent faces growing challenges! In a new report called “First Aid for a Safer Future: Focus on Europe” the International Federation of Red Cross/Red Crescent Societies and the European Reference Centre for First Aid Education give ten recommendations. Key among them: compulsory quality first aid training or education for everyone.

“The fact that 56 per cent of European countries have decided to make first aid compulsory to get a driving licence is encouraging but this is not enough and we clearly see the need for legislation at the European level both on compulsory quality first aid training and on putting a time limit on first aid certificates”, explains Diane Issard, manager of the Reference Centre based at the French Red Cross in Paris.

Major differences within Europe
The report contains several key statistics: While 95 per cent of the population in Norway, as well as 80 per cent in Germany and Austria, are trained in first aid, in many other European countries only between 5 and 10 per cent of the population have the necessary skills to take immediate action and apply the appropriate techniques in case of accident. Especially in southern, central and eastern Europe, authorities rely too much on emergency services instead of the lifesaving potential of individual first aiders. “All citizens should be given an active role in disaster prevention and be taught basic first aid skills that can be applied in any kind of emergency, including everyday accidents”, says Diane Issard.

Without first aid, help often arrives too late
The report demonstrates how immediate first aid can help reduce the severity of injuries and save lives: When a human heart ceases beating, permanent brain damage can occur within the first minutes after breathing stops, the report points out, emphasizing that, unless someone trained in first aid has taken immediate action, even the most sophisticated emergency service will frequently arrive on the scene only to certify death.

First aiders need legal protection
The report also advocates for more access to defibrillators in public and private places, calls for more realistic first aid trainings and is urging European legislators to ensure that first aid providers are not held responsible for possible poor outcomes in the challenging settings of an accident: “This is essential to avoid people from turning away from accidents because they are afraid of possible legal actions”, concludes Diane Issard.

According to a survey conducted in 2006, out of the 6.2 million people trained in first aid every year in Europe, 56 per cent (3.5 million) are trained by National Red Cross or Red Crescent Societies.


European Reference Centre for First Aid Education

98 rue Didot

75014 Paris


Tel.: +33 (0)1 44 43 12 96

Fax: +33 (0)1 44 43 12 49