First Aid includes a collective arrangement of tasks and specific actions that are applied, to any injury or illness induced situation, in order to ensure the proper, and adequate, provision of effective care. Unfortunately, just because first aid is applied, regardless of the situation or individual involved, there is no guarantee that it will be successful or effective. Even still any varying injury or illness typically requires immediate action in order to ensure that the human body's basic homeostatic needs and processes are met, and, that is precisely where the fundamental principles governing all first aid activities come into play.

A variety of community based organizations typically offer some form of basic first aid training class in order to help inject willing, and interested, citizens with the basic lifesaver skills that they may need in order to act in a prompt, and efficient, manner in the event of an emergency. Typically, any initial medical response will be made by a simple lay person, and these measures should be maintained until advanced medical services are activated and arrive on the scene. While some communities have expeditious response teams in their emergency medical services (EMS), other communities, by virtue of limited funding, may not be afforded quite the same accommodation. Even still, this fully validates the importance and necessity for each community to take a proactive approach to life saving by continually emphasizing the importance of achieving, and maintaining, a fundamental citizen skill set when it comes to the basics of first aid.

The history of first aid is deep-rooted in the realization that the human body is naturally susceptible to both internal and external forces. Back when war was an ever-present reality, wounds inflicted whether in combat or during training exercises, fully validated the need for the knight class to become skilled in performing these basic first aid lifesaving tasks. In the 11th century, these religious knights realized this need and provided basic first aid and care to both pilgrims and knights. Not only did they provide this first aid care, but they also provided a means by which to instill, or pass on, this fundamental knowledge on a volunteer basis, much like it is done today. Today, though, some professions like that of a Registered Nurse (RN) are typically required basic underlying first aid certification in order to work in their chosen place of employment.

All first aid classes, whether they originate from the Red Cross or elsewhere, are guided by the premise that all lives are valuable and effort should be taken to preserve those lives in accordance with the casualties wishes, of course. In a hospital setting, respect for a patient's autonomy, however, offers them the opportunity to make their wishes known regarding first aid, or a variety of other extrenuous life saving measures. While CPR is included in basic first aid training classes, a patient is able to state, prior to a precipitating event, whether or not they wish to have CPR conducted on them. At any time, however, they may verbally rescind their wish to not be resuscitated.

Beyond the desire to ultimately preserve a casualties life, first aid training classes will also emphasize the importance of doing no harm to a casualty. Walking this delicate balance may be quite difficult, at times, even when you have all the right intentions in mind. Ethical dilemmas may be propelled to the forefront of considerations, and those trained in first aid must be wary of even the most remote, and bizarre, possibility for a traumatic outcome. In the event that a spinal injury is suspected, a first aid responded should take all necessary measures to ensure the casualty's neck is isolated. Unfortunately, even with the best intentions at heart, an early responded may move a casualty's neck and cause significant impairment and damage. While learning first aid, it is imperative that one realize that everything they do, or may not do, could be met with stern consequences and an even worse casualty outcome.

Prioritization of casualty needs has become a cornerstone of first aid training. While extreme situations may certainly exist where you may not want to concentrate on one element of care over another, the basic ABC's (Airway, Breathing, and Circulation) have become an easy way to remember the progression of attention that should be spent promoting each vital component of human life. While all are important, this sequence is validated because of the importance of serving the body's tissues with life saving oxygen and tissue perfusion. Without having an airway immediately established, breathing and circulation would be jeopardized, and could lead to casualty brain death in a matter of four to six minutes.

One's airway can become compromised for a variety of reasons, and first aid is specifically tailored towards ensuring that an immediate responder know the value of providing an airway, as well as, know the importance of maintaining it. In the event that your casualty is conscious, they will maintain their airway automatically, however any first responder must be cognizant of the fact that this may not be the case. Quick reaction is required in order to establish and maintain this airway. In the event that a first aid responder assesses and evaluates a casualty as having an established airway already, they can place the casualty in what is known as the recovery position. The recovery position is essentially a position that will maximize oxygenation while minimizing effort and potential aspiration of substances back into the lungs.

As a highly emphasized element of first aid, CPR certification is approached differently in accordance with the host country's rules and regulations. In Canada CPR training certification is divided into several levels of training, with Level A being the lowest level of CPR administration, and Level HCP (Health Care Professional) being the highest level. In the HCP level, similar to the United States, those skills taught in the A, B, and C levels are also expounded upon to include artificial resuscitation, AED use, and bag-valve-mask use. Anyone who has received the HCR-HCP certification is also considered AED certified, in accordance with Canada's CPR certification standards.