Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Can you learn First Aid from a video?

In 2013, the UK's Health and Safety Executive (HSE) - the Body that oversees Health and Safety in the Workplace - approved Blended learning when teaching First Aid.

What Blended learning means is that whilst some aspects of First Aid still need to be taught and practised face to face, a lot of it can be done remotely - for example by using video tutorials online.

On the face of it, this seems to be a strange move. First Aid is very much a practical skill. There is already a layman's fear of doing harm to a patient. To now say that you can try to save someone's life using techniques that you have watched online does not completely sit comfortably. How do you know that what you are doing is correct in terms of depth, speed, positioning and so on?

Perception vs Reality

Of course, it is not quite that bad. In practice, there are no completely online First Aid courses (Refreshers, yes. Initial courses, no). If you wish to obtain a (Emergency) First Aid at Work ( (E)FAW ) qualification, or one of the child / paediatric certificates you have to demonstrate practical skills at some point. However, a lot of the course groundwork can be undertaken online before the classroom session. The concepts and principles can be stepped through using videos and online question papers. Once the student can demonstrate a suitable level of understanding, (s)he can be signed off and allowed to attend the remainder of the course in a classroom.

What's in it for me?

The advantages of blended learning boil down to time and money.


First Aid at Work is a three day course, Ofsted compliant Paediatric is two days. For smaller organisations it can be hard to release an employee for that length of time and still keep the Business going. With one day of online work, this can be carried out whilst at work so that the employee is still available for work-related matters. It's not often that an Employer will encourage employees to sit around watching videos on work time....


As they saying goes, time is money. If you, as an employer send an employee away on a course, you still have to pay them for that day (plus expenses) but also possibly pay for cover. Agencies are not known for their altruism, staff drafted in will invariably cost more than regular staff.

Recording a Training video once and playing it many times is an economical way of delivering material and this is reflected in the cost of courses.  Whereas a typical course in a classroom will cost between £50 and £100 per person, ProTrainings (the certification Company that 4Minutes uses), for example, charges just £25 for the online part.

Precedent already set

Of course, First Aid is not the first to use blended training. Anyone that has taken a driving test in the last few years will know that there is now a Theory part that needs to be passed before the Practical. You still have to learn and take your test in a vehicle, thank goodness. At least for now. Once self-driving cars become more mainstream, I can see a day when there is a theory-only test. Interesting times ahead.

Any downsides?

Well, yes. As already mentioned, there is no feedback from the instructor if you are unsure and just watching someone perform CPR will not give you a feel for just how difficult it can be on a mannikin or a real person.


Blended learning and online-only learning is here to stay, like it or not. Whilst it has its place, 4Minute's stance is that all courses should have some face to face element when learning the major life-saving techniques. For underpinning knowledge and other parts of the course, then online at your own pace is almost as good as watching a trainer in person step through a series of Powerpoints.

What do you think?

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