accessibility & help

Humanitarian first aid

By their very nature emergencies are unpredictable. But there are things we can do to prepare that could make us better able to cope and respond in a crisis. Learning first aid is one of those things.

Help young people explore different elements of first aid; what can be predicted and prepared for and what skills and qualities do we all have to help.

Start with photographs of a unique training session in Jerusalem before moving on to consider the scenarios and skills that are most relevant to young people. On the way, invite them to create their own set of resilience-building techniques.

Learning objectives

By the end of this activity young people will be able to:

  • Identify the skills and qualities of a helper
  • Identify first aid scenarios that could arise during events or activities likely to happen over the summer and actions they could take to prepare for them.

Photo activity

First aid training in Jerusalem© Info

Show the photograph. Ask young people what they think is happening. What is being practised or learnt?

Explain that what’s happening is first-aid training. It is taking place in the old city of Jerusalem, at the Al-Aqsa mosque on the Temple Mount. This is a very holy site and a place of pilgrimage for many.

Over a million people reportedly visit the World Heritage Site every year. Ramadan is very busy, with hundreds of thousands of people coming through on a single day. The people being trained in first aid by the Palestinian Red Crescent are guards at the Al-Aqsa compound.

The training lasts five full days and is tailored to their specific needs. The course is designed to make sure that guards can act safely and effectively to give first aid to people caught in situations of violence, natural disasters, or who have become ill because of the heat.

Photo of Lamya Abu Rmeileh© Info

Show the photo of Lamya Abu Rmeileh. She joined the Al-Aqsa Compound guards 16 years ago. She said:

“If I have to face a situation in which I must act as a first aider, I will implement what I learnt without hesitation, be it for my kids at home, my neighbours or people at Al-Aqsa Mosque, or in any other incident.”

Encourage young people to discuss the following questions:

  • What specific scenarios do they think the course might cover?
  • Why might practising for different scenarios make people better able to respond during an emergency?
  • What skills and qualities might a helper need in order to step forward and act in a first aid emergency?
  • Would those skills and qualities change depending on the circumstances, for example, while at work, at home, in another country, or even in a school?

You can show a short video to students to help them understand more about the training.


One of the things the course covers is heat-related illnesses. Discuss why this might be important in the Middle East in the summer. Encourage young people to investigate how hot it can get in Jerusalem in summer.

Fainting is particularly common in hot weather. How would young people help someone who was feeling faint due to the heat?

Explain that if someone is feeling faint, you should advise them to lie down on their back and raise their legs to improve blood flow to the brain. As they recover, you can reassure them and help them to gradually sit up. Young people could practice this in pairs.

Ask why you shouldn’t encourage someone who is feeling faint to sit on a chair with their head between their legs. Explain that if a person faints while sitting in this position they could fall and injure themselves.

Skills and scenarios

What first aid scenario do young people think would be most relevant to them and that they would most want to learn?

Choose from the following list:

  • allergic reactions
  • asthma attack
  • bleeding heavily
  • broken bone
  • burns
  • choking
  • head injury
  • heart attack
  • hypothermia
  • meningitis
  • seizures
  • strains and sprains
  • stroke
  • unresponsive and breathing
  • unresponsive and not breathing

Help build their knowledge and grow their confidence in specific scenarios using a suite of interactive first aid resources.

Preparing for different situations

Different situations are likely to create different types of first aid needs. Using the list above and young people’s own creative imaginations, ask them to identify three possible conditions that might occur at different venues and events. You can use the list below as inspiration.

  • A summer music festival
  • At the seaside, a popular family beach
  • At the seaside, a popular surfers beach
  • A school prom
  • A day’s hike on exposed moorland.

Bring the group back together to discuss the different thoughts. Is there broad agreement about the likely conditions? How varied are they? What first aid would young people want to know if they were going to be taking part in these activities?

Think about self-preparation — actions that people can take to reduce the chance of them needing first aid assistance. Look again at the list of venues and activities, choose one, and identify steps someone might take in advance of the event to be better prepared for a situation where first aid is needed.

It might be something to learn, something to take with them, or something to do or avoid doing. Which would young people add to their personal resilience-building repertoire?

First on the scene

Experts say that the first person on the scene can make a very big difference to the outcome for an ill or injured person. What they do, or don’t do, really matters.

Find a news story online where the first person on the scene reportedly made a big difference to the outcome.

Do you think you would have done what the person did? If not, what needs to change so that you could?

Willing and confident

To be effective at first aid, you need to have skills. You also need to be confident and willing to help. Do a simple survey of friends and family, finding out what they think of their own confidence and willingness.

Imagine that you saw someone in need of first aid who was not being helped. In which of the following cases would you step in to help:

  • If you were the only person there. Yes/No
  • You were in a group of friends. Yes/No
  • You know the ill or injured person. Yes/No
  • If there were other people watching but doing nothing. Yes/No
  • There were some people there helping, but seemed unsure whether they were doing the right thing. Yes/No

Compare results. What can you conclude from your survey? Try to summarise them. How might it change depending on the scenario – can young people identify scenarios where they would be more or less likely to help?

What barriers to action exist to helping others? What actions can young people take to start to overcome them?


This resource was written by PJ White of Alt62 and published in June 2016.