First Aid FAQs

1/ Do I need to do any particular first aid course?

Mountain Training requires evidence of a current first aid qualification at assessment for all our leader and instructor qualifications. Currently, across all of Mountain Training’s outdoor qualification schemes except Camping Leader, the minimum requirement is that such a course must involve at least two full days or sixteen hours of instruction and include an element of assessment. For Camping Leader and all of the indoor qualifications, the minimum requirement is at least one day or eight hours of instruction, including an element of assessment.

There is no first aid requirement for Indoor Climbing Assistant because they are not responsible for the group.

For Camping Leader, Climbing Wall Instructor and Climbing Wall Development Instructor:

You must have attended and completed a first aid course which involved at least one full day or eight hours of instruction and included an element of assessment.

For all other schemes (except Indoor Climbing Assistant):

You must have attended and completed a first aid course which involved at least two full days or sixteen hours of instruction and included an element of assessment.

2/ Does Mountain Training recognise or authorise specific first aid courses?

We are regularly asked for advice on first aid requirements, so here's some advice. We don't police this, so it is up to the assessor (and candidate) to satisfy him or herself that the first aid course fits the criteria. Some people use the awards in more remote places than others so we just specify the minimum requirement (extracted in the answer to previous question). For a Hill and Moorland Leader, for example, the remit criterion is that the area is easily exited within a few hours, so prolonged casualty care is less likely than for a Mountain Leader.

So you can assure your participants that the course meets the criteria required by the Boards if you can go through the syllabus tick list (which is very open as you can see) and agree that it matches all points.

First aid training is about risk management, so the trainer needs to cover the sort of things that are more likely to go wrong on the hill. Given the restricted time available, incidents such as poisoning through industrial cleaning fluid, for example, would be a low priority topic for Hill and Moorland Leader candidates whereas environmental injuries such as heat or cold exhaustion, or even drowning, would be much higher up the list. This is the sort of thing that is sometimes best done by getting the candidates to brainstorm everything that could go wrong on an expedition, and write up the topics that require specific first aid training for the first aid course. In addition to primary and secondary care, casualty examination and basic “ABCDE” life support we would certainly expect the following to be covered (not an exhaustive list!):
  • Calling for help
  • Methods and limitations of evacuation
  • Common conditions, e.g. asthma, epilepsy, angina and diabetes
  • Cold injuries including hypothermia and frost nip/bite
  • Heat injuries including burns, heat exhaustion, heat stroke, blisters, dehydration
  • Drowning/near drowning
  • Electric shock (lightning for example)
  • Bites and stings, including sheep/deer ticks.
  • Substance abuse and poisoning.
Finally, the course should be as 'hands on' in emphasis as possible, keeping lecture style to a minimum and group participation to a maximum. First aid training should be about building skills and confidence first, knowledge second.

3/ Does the Health and Safety Executive regulate first aid qualifications?

No. Here is a position statement from the HSE website:

'Since 1 October 2013 HSE no longer approves first aid training and qualifications – and no longer approves first aid training organisations. This means that businesses have more flexibility in how they manage their provision of first aid in the workplace.

This means that it is the employer’s duty to ensure that any training provider that they select for the purposes of first aid training is competent to deliver that training.'

4/ What do I do if I need support to access first aid courses?

Mountain Training recognise some individuals may not be able to access ‘off the shelf’, practical first aid courses due to personal circumstance. It is the first aid provider who has the discretion to modify the course program, assessment or offer a reasonable adjustment to support access. We recommend the individual concerned contacts the first aid provider to discuss their circumstances. If further support is required individuals are welcome to contact Mountain Training.

5/ Can I be granted exemption from needing a first aid certificate?

We usually ask that even a qualified medical practitioner present a current first aid certificate at assessment. However, in the case of some medical professionals, if you believe that your level of experience and training means that you will prove competent as a first aider you may ‘self-exempt’ from this requirement. It is important to emphasise the need to maintain your level of involvement in this field of first aid. You will fully appreciate the need to be able to demonstrate current levels of competence should the worst come to the worst. This is one of the useful functions of nationally validated certification with a three-year renewal cycle. Please do review the scheme handbook for the minimum first aid requirements.

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