Evolution of First Aid Training in the British Army

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2 Citations (Scopus)


This article describes the evolution of first aid in the British Army from the Crimean War to the present day in order to interpret the processes of innovation, implementation, and diffusion of ideas to improve the clinical outcomes for military casualties.

Materials and Methods
The article is an analysis of policy and practice for training in first aid published in King’s/Queen’s Regulations for the Army, the Field Service Pocket Book, or generic military training policy. This is complimented by a review of medical training manuals and a search of articles in the Journal of the Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC). Most sources have been accessed from the Museum of Military of Medicine and the Wellcome RAMC Muniments Collection.

The narrative summarizes the evolution of clinical concepts in first aid and their translation for Army personnel; starting with RAMC stretcher bearers, extended to soldiers assigned to medical duties at unit level, and finally simplified into first aid training to be taught to all soldiers. Alongside this story of training is a secondary story of the development of field first aid equipment, principally dressings, tourniquets, and analgesia. The final part of the story is the transfer of knowledge from military first aid training into the civilian, community setting. The following themes were identified: the reality of conflict wounds, battlefield first aid is different from civilian first aid, progressive transfer of training from medics to soldiers, transfer of knowledge to civilian sector and internationally, and specific clinical innovations: first field dressings, tourniquets, and prehospital analgesia.

The current generation of soldiers are at the highest ever standard of first aid training and equipment. This must be maintained through gathering of evidence in effectiveness and outcomes in prehospital emergency care in both military and civilian settings.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)808-813
Number of pages6
JournalMilitary Medicine
Issue numberSupplement_1
Publication statusPublished - 25 Jan 2021


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