Biblical Roots of First Aid
Modern and organized first aid evolved from military medicine experiences, for example, treating battle injuries, setting fractures, controlling bleeding, and removing arrows. In addition, military surgeons showed soldiers how to splint and bandage battlefield wounds. In the 1870s, a military surgeon, Johannes F. A. von Esmarch was the first to use the term first aid. He taught soldiers a standard set of bandaging and splinting skills (Pearn, 1994).
The American Red Cross guidelines note first aid can be defined as helping behaviors and initial care for an acute illness or injury. First aid goals include preserving life, alleviating suffering, preventing further illness or injury, and promoting recovery (Markenson et al., 2010; Singletary et al., 2015). A first aid provider is someone with formal training in first aid, emergency care, or medicine (Markenson et al.). However, first aid can be administered by anyone, with minimal or no medical equipment, and includes competencies such as recognizing, assessing, and prioritizing the need for first aid; providing care by using appropriate knowledge, skills, and behaviors; recognizing limitations; and seeking additional care when needed (Markenson et al.; Singletary et al.; Vancini, dos Santos Andrade, Vancini-Campanharo, & de Lira, 2015).
The Bible contains numerous mentions of medicine (2 Kings 5:10, 20:7; John 9:7; 1 Timothy 5:23). These references refer to washing, figs, spices, and wine used for medical purposes. Sun (2013) demonstrated that the Bible contains data about different medical topics. Vancini et al. (2015) expanded this view and pointed out that the Bible contains material about human biological rhythmicity and chronobiology (Genesis 50:2; Leviticus 12:1-4; Deuteronomy 12:16). The New Testament is filled with examples of healing, expulsion of demons, and prayer for healing (Matthew 8:16, 10:8; Mark 10:52; James 5:14).
The idea of first aid is clearly expressed in the parable of the Good Samaritan, Luke 10:25-37. In first aid terminology, the Samaritan had the hands to care and the heart to act. He cared for the victim's wounds according to the treatment of the day, transported the victim, and oversaw and financed his recovery.
Although the Bible was not written for scientific purposes, it represents the culture of humanity's evolution, which includes medical and health knowledge (Subhaktha, Narayana, Sharma, & Rao, 2006; Sun, 2013). First aid education and training can help increase survival rates, reduce injury severity, and improve morbidity and mortality (Markenson et al., 2010).
Although nurses are well prepared to offer medical assistance, we believe that education and training in first aid should be universal and that biblical teachings reinforce this view. Assisting in cases of an emergency is a life-saving skill. We should encourage those outside the profession to become trained in first aid.