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First aid - what is it? - info for kids

first; aid; danger; response; airway; circulation; safe; DRABC; resusitation ;


The first aid actions in this topic should only be used by someone who has done a first aid course and knows exactly what to do. This topic will tell you what trained people will do.

The only thing that you really need to do is call for help - and you need to know who to call to help your friend or any other person needs help if they are injured or needs first aid help.

Who can you call?

  • Emergency service - call 000 in Australia. Find out the emergency number in your country.
  • Your teachers or other school staff.
  • People who you know have been trained in first aid.
  • Your parents.
  • Any adult.

What is first aid?

are you ok?If your friend has an accident or someone collapses (perhaps from a heart attack) then the first person there will be the 'first aider' or the person who will help her or him until others get there.

First aid is about using what you have learnt in ways that will keep people safe without doing harm to them.

It's a great idea for older children and adults to do a first aid course so that they know what to do to help others.

Ask your parents or carers to do a first aid course!

At school, all teachers and other staff have had a lot of training in first aid and will know what to do; in other places ask an adult to help. Kids should not take responsibility for first aid unless there really is no-one else there. 

Calling for help

Calling for help is the most important thing a kid can do in an emergency.

If you're going to be the one making the emergency phone call, here's what to do:

  • Take a deep breath to calm down a little.
  • Call 000 (in Australia).
  • Tell the operator there's an emergency and what kind of emergency you think it is.
  • Say your name and where you are - the exact address if you know it. The operator in the emergency phone centre is likely to be able to tell where you are by finding out where your phone is if you don't know exactly where you are.
  • Explain what happened and how many people need help. The operator will need all the information you can provide, so give as many details as you can.
  • Follow all of the operator's instructions carefully.
  • Stay on the line until the operator says it's OK to hang up. 


Here is something to help you remember what first aid is.

The letters DRSABCD stand for

D = Danger
R = Response
S = Send for help
A = Airway

B = Breathing
C = Compression
D = Defibrillate


Before you do anything to help your friend make sure that it is safe for you to help her.

make sure it is safe for you to helpIf it is safe for you but your friend is in a dangerous place, like the middle of the road if she has fallen off her bike, then get her to move to a safer place.

Do not move an unconscious person who may have a bad injury (like being hit by a car or falling from a tree). You could make the injury worse.

NEVER stand out in the road trying to make cars stop. This is very dangerous. Wave and shout for help from the pavement.


This is to find out if your friend is awake and able to talk to you (respond to you), or if she might be unconscious.

This is something that someone who has been trained in first aid will know how to do. You need to be calling for help and not trying to find out if the person is unconscious.

They will:

  • Call out to the person.
  • Tap his face or shoulder gently if he seems to be asleep.
  • Ask him what happened.
  • Ask him where he hurts.

If he doesn't answer or move he or she could be unconscious.

Send for help

Ask someone to help you or get someone to dial 000 for an ambulance while you help the person if you are trained in first aid.


If a person is unconscious he may not be able to breathe easily if he is on his back. If he has collapsed or had an epileptic fit the best position for the unconscious person is to lie in the 'recovery' position.

Unless you have been trained in first aid you should not be moving the person in any way.

You should not put a person who has been badly injured into the 'recovery' position as you could make the injury worse by moving the person.

Your first aid teacher will tell you how to put a person into that position when you are being trained.

These are the steps that a person who has been trained in first aid will do.

Clearing the mouth

Tilt the head back to open the airway.

Look and feel if anything is in the mouth and scoop it out with their middle fingers.
tilt the head back

The recovery position that the trained person will do.

Step 1
One arm out, the other arm folded to touch the shoulder
step 1
Step 2
Support the head and lift the knee, keep their knees close to the body of your friend. Roll her gently away from them. If someone else is there - getting her to help by supporting the head.
step 2
Step 3
Recovery position

This needs to be done very carefully and slowly.
step 3


Check to see if she is breathing.

This is done by watching or feeling her lower chest to see if it is moving up and down.

You can check by putting your ear close to her face, so that you can feel or listen to find out if there is air coming out of her mouth.


Someone needs to be trained in first aid to be able to do this, as it is hard to do it the right way.

If the person is not breathing – maybe the person has had a heart attack or has almost drowned - resuscition needs to be done. They will push downwards carefully on the person's chest to help keep the person's blood circulating. The person who you have talked to on the emergency phone line will tell people who have not been trained how to do this. 

You should not try this unless you have been trained to do so or someone is telling you just what to do.

If the person starts breathing again:

  • Carefully, but quickly, turn her back onto her side as she may vomit (throw up).
  • ambulanceIf she does vomit, then you may need to clear her mouth again if she is not fully awake
  • Stay with her.

Keep calm

Talk quietly to your friend.

Get help.

If no-one is around stay with her until someone comes.


You should not use a defibrillator unless you have been trained how to use it. Adults nearby may be able to use a defibrillator by following the instructions on it.

When a person has had a heart attack their heart may beat too fast for the blood to go around their body normally. People who have been specially trained may be able to use a machine called a defibrillator (say de-fib-ril-ator). This shocks the heart into a normal rhythm.

There are now defibrillators in many public places such as some shopping centres, schools and workplaces. They are labelled AED and look like a small plastic or metal case.

Answering your questions

What if my baby sister is not breathing and I am looking after her?

* Call the Telephone Emergency number immediately (000 in Australia). The person answering the call will get an ambulance to your house as quickly as possible.
* You need to tell them your address and what the problem is.
* Don't hang up the phone.
* They will tell you what to do to help your sister.
* They might tell you to go through the steps of D.R.S.A.B.C.
* It's a good idea to have a list of emergency numbers by your phone.  Look at our Emergency action planner for some ideas on what numbers you may need.
* Stay calm and don't feel bad if you cannot do resuscitation. It is difficult to do if you have not had any training.

Where can I do a First aid course?
In Australia, you can ask about courses at

* Red Cross 
* St John Ambulance
* or your local Council may have courses running.

Why not ask the Student Representative Council at your school to ask if there could be courses in Basic First Aid for all year 6 and 7 students? What a great student initiative that would be!

Or, if you live in South Australia you could click on this link to find out how to become involved with St John Ambulance as a volunteer junior or cadet.  

Dr Kate says

Dr Kate"The most important thing to remember about first aid is that you have to keep yourself safe. Always look out for danger and send for help as soon as possible.

Just being there for your friend will make her feel better and you will be able to say what has happened when an adult or the ambulance people come along…..and that will be very helpful."

If your friend is bleeding you could help her stop the bleeding by getting her to put pressure on the part of the body which is bleeding. There is information about what to do in the topic 'First aid – bleeding - info for kids'.

There are several other first aid topics on this site: 

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We've provided this information to help you to understand important things about staying healthy and happy. However, if you feel sick or unhappy, it is important to tell your mum or dad, a teacher or another grown-up.


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