First Aid skills are important in any walk of life, but being skilled in First Aid is absolutely fundamental to being a Close protection professional. Some schoolchildren are now taught very basic First Aid. This is a good thing. First Aid should be on everybody’s curriculum. Over the years, I have seen and been amazed at the number of bodyguards’ CV/resumes that make no mention of First Aid. When questioned in interview, these candidates mention that yes, they have done First Aid in the Army: ‘about ten years ago’ or ‘I did a lifesaving course, “a while ago”‘.
This is simply not good enough. I can guarantee with some certainty that First Aid skills will be needed in a career of close protection. You may never need that bootleg turn that you practise over and over in the car or the quick draw and chair roll that you have perfected for hotel corridors; but you will need your knowledge of First Aid.
First Aid is a skill like any other; it needs constant practice to remain effective. Techniques and ideas change so it is imperative that you carry out continual training and remain up to date. Most books on ‘close protection’ include a chapter on First Aid but this is a token gesture and often used only to pad out the book. Authors tend to stick to sexy First Aid like suckling chest wounds, tracheotomies and gunshot wounds. They ignore the simple facts, such as your principal is hundreds of times more likely to die choking on a pretzel than be shot in the chest. First Aid needs its own book, and cannot be covered in a single chapter. You will need to undertake a course in First Aid.
In the UK when the Security Industry Authority (SIA) commissioned the key skills or core competencies, the draft documents included just sexy First Aid. Some sensible folk lobbied to get this taken out and be replaced by a formal qualification in First Aid. Eventually, the SIA chose the Health and Safety Executive’s ‘First Aid at Work’ course, which is run over four days and which is accompanied by written and practical exams. In the UK, therefore, you will need this First Aid qualification to get a licence to operate as a Close Protection Officer. The course covers much more than tracheotomies and for those that really want to know, yes, they do teach you about suckling chest wounds.
The course will cover the following:
- Introduction to first aid
- Personal hygiene
- Dressings and bandages
- Wounds and bleeding
- Circulatory disorders
- Duties of a First Aider
- The skeleton
- Burns and scalding
- Handling and transport
This course certificate is valid for three years; thereafter, before your certificate runs out, you must undertake a two day refresher course. Go over three years and you will have to do the whole course again to get re-certificated.Other Essential First Aid Courses
While the basic First Aid course above is enough to get you a licence to operate in the UK you should consider at least two other First Aid qualifications, which are essential if you are to become a protection professional.
Automated External Defibrillator Course
This short course teaches you how to use an Automated External Defibrillator (AED). This device can be used to administer measured electric shocks to people in the throes of cardiac arrest and is the best way of increasing their chance of survival. Many close protection teams routinely carry AEDs and you must be trained in their use. Most ‘de-fib’ courses last around one day and the course certificate must be renewed every six months.
First Aid for children
Very often the addition of a first aid certificate applicable to children will make a close protection officer more employable in a family environment. Most courses available are aimed at giving first aid to adults so you will have to look hard to find one especially for children. First aid techniques for children differ in some crucial areas. Participants learn about techniques for resuscitating children and infants, conducting risk assessments and how to deal with choking, burns, scalds and seizures. In a career in close protection, you will find that you work for principals that have families that include young children. You will often be charged with their care. You need to know what to do in the event of an accident or illness. If you are working in an environment that includes children, you cannot be a bodyguard without these skills.