Find the right first aid course


In an emergency, first aid training makes a big difference.  Basic first aid administered straight after an accident usually results in better outcomes for the patient.  This is particularly true in life threatening cases.

A notable public example is the footballer Christian Eriksen, who received CPR and defibrillation very quickly after collapsing on pitch with a cardiac arrest during the Euros in 2021.

Across the UK each year around 30,000 sudden cardiac arrests occur outside of hospitals. The chance of survival is low at around 10%. While this means only about 1 in 10 people survive out of hospital cardiac arrests, this is almost twice the survival rate of a decade ago.

However if more of us are trained in first aid and subsequently follow the chain of survival including using a defibrillator (AED) quickly, the survival rate dramatically improves, rising to around 1 in 2 patients recovering.

In fact, AEDs when used within the first 3-5 minutes of a person suffering a Sudden Cardiac Arrest can dramatically increase a victim’s chance of survival from less than 5% to as much as 70%.

Due to the effectiveness of first aid, particularly in life-threatening situations, UK First Aid regulations require employers to provide appropriate facilities, equipment and training to personnel in order that patients in the workplace receive speedy care.

But what does this mean exactly?

Complying with first aid regulations starts with completing a first aid needs assessment.  Think about your workplace hazards and how you will ensure how staff and the public will receive emergency care should it be required.

To help, the UK Health & Safety executive (HSE) provides example case studies on what they regard as appropriate first aid needs assessment for various businesses.  This is a great place to start.

The HSE also defines two First Aid training syllabuses.  Know as First Aid at Work (FAW) and Emergency First Aid at Work (EFAW).  Most businesses follow these syllabuses because the HSE are a respected authority on workplace safety and also a legally empowered enforcement agency.

Remember, there are no absolute correct answers as to what is required though.  Appropriate is a subjective term and will differ from workplace to workplace.

However, the HSE do state the minimum requirements for all businesses.  All businesses must (1) assess their first aid needs, (2) have a first aid kit, (3) appoint someone to take charge of arrangements and inform colleagues about the arrangements.  Further, any needs assessment or training should also be documented.  For example, maintaining a training spreadsheet and/or storing completion certificates.

In larger businesses or where more significant risks exist a trained First Aider is required.

The HSE outlines essential topics that must be covered in all First Aid at Work (FAW) and Emergency First Aid at Work (EFAW) courses.  In addition the Department for Education provides guidance on course content for Paediatric First Aid (PFA).

Employers are responsible for choosing the training that is right for them. The findings of your first-aid needs assessment will identify whether first aiders should be trained in FAW, EFAW, or some other appropriate level of training to ensure you are meeting the regulatory requirement of providing ‘appropriate training to personnel‘.

What do the HSE first aid courses cover?


So, you know the courses that are available, but how many colleagues do you need to train?  Again, the HSE provides guidance for employers with regards the amount of first aid training required to meet regulations.

As mentioned, there are one size fits all answers.  The guidance below needs to be considered in the context of your specific business, consider factors such as:

  • Staff working at different locations
  • First aid cover for shift work
  • Absences of a first aider
  • Specific health requirements of employees
  • Cover for employees travelling
  • Any previous incidents that have occurred.

Low risk workplaces

For example offices, shops, cafes etc.

At least 1 appointed person.

Appropriate Training

There are no mandatory requirements for the appointed person undertake a full FAW course.  An online FAW or EFAW at work would help boost the confidence of the appointed person in fulfilling their role. 

Higher hazard workplaces:

For example warehousing, construction, laboratories, light engineering and assembly work.

At least 1 appointed person.

Appropriate Training

There are no mandatory requirements for the appointed person undertake a full FAW course.  An online FAW or EFAW at work would help boost the confidence of the appointed person in fulfilling their role. 

Early Years Setting:

For example Childminders, nurseries, schools .

At least one person who has a current paediatric first aid certificate must be on the premises and available at all times when children are present, and must accompany children on outings.

Childminders, and any assistant who might be in sole charge of the children for any period of time, must hold a current paediatric first aid certificate.

All entrants to an early years setting who have completed a level 2 or level 3 qualification must complete either a PFA or a EPFA certificate within three months of starting work.


The timings stated above are the recommended timings provided by the HSE.  More and more training providers are offering full online or blended online and face to face training solutions.

Because online first aid training not impacted by restrictions such as trainer availability, set timings, or premises accessibility, attainment of appropriate competence can often be achieved in a shorter timeframe.

Responsibility for selecting an appropriate training provider and course duration sits with the employer.

The HSE guidance with respect to online first aid training is that ‘blended learning is an accepted method of delivery of first aid training, provided criteria are met’.

The HSE criteria for the online element of First Aid training is:

  • the individual being trained knows how to use the technology that delivers the training;

  • the training provider has an adequate means of supporting the individual during their training;

  • the training provider has a robust system in place to prevent identity fraud;

  • sufficient time is allocated to classroom-based learning and assessment of the practical elements of the syllabus. HSE strongly recommends that practical elements of the course should be assessed by direct observation, to ensure the competence of candidates;

  • the provider has an appropriate means of assessing the e-learning component of the training.


There are various situations where a first aid needs assessment might determine that online first aid training is the most appropriate solution.  For example:

As part of blended FAW training

Remote Workers

Employees who work remotely, individually or in small groups, are not typically expected to take a full 3 day FAW course.  An online EFAW or FAW course provides a great way to impart key knowledge and achieve training expectations.

All staff in higher risk workplaces

More first aiders are required by the HSE in high risk workplaces.  Where humans and machinery work closely together accidents are more likely.  In these environments, if all staff have an understanding of the EFAW syllabus, first aid response in the event of an emergency will most likely be enhanced.

FAW Refresher training 

The UK HSE recommends first aiders receive annual refresher training.  Our online First Aid at Work course serves as a great way to refresh knowledge and keep up to date


References [External Links]

  1. Department for Education Paediatric first aid: EYFS statutory framework amendments - Link

  2. UK Health & Safety Executive - First Aid Training Criteria - Link