Are You Cut Out to be a First Aid Instructor?

Are You Cut Out to be a First Aid Instructor?

I’ve been at this for forty years – I’m so old that the first course other than a straight CPR course was the Workers’ Compensation Board (now WorkSafeBC) Survival First Aid course (now Occupational First Aid Level 1) and it was on film. Yes, I mean take the film canister, rent/beg/borrow/wheedle a film projector and feed the film through the projector and hope that the film didn’t break, and that the bulb didn’t burn out!

Well that was forty years and hundreds of courses and thousands of students later here I am getting ready to retire from the teaching business but always keen to nurture the next generation of Instructors.

The thing is that now it’s a question of the anticipation of teaching a day really can get me down but when I’m actually teaching (and the students are really learning!) it’s a whole different feeling – I love it and get wrapped up in it for the day and the students and I both benefit.

There are many ways to become a First Aid Instructor and a few agencies that have Instructor development programs – the Canadian Red Cross, WorkSafeBC, St. John Ambulance and the Royal Lifesaving Society to name a few. I’ve never done a wilderness first aid course but there are opportunities in that area as well of course. The Canadian Red Cross has Wilderness First Aid programs and our favourite local company Slipstream Wilderness First Aid.

As a long-time 40-year plus Paramedic I’m always amazed that there are first Aid Instructors that haven’t actually done the job even as an Industrial Medic or construction site first aid attendant let alone, and its certainly not for everyone, having been a Paramedic.


Our Primary Care Paramedic (PCP) and Emergency Medical Responder (EMR) instructors are all currently or have done the job for many years along with new Instructor trainees who have their Paramedic license. You can really sense the difference between someone who has done the job and someone who hasn’t as an instructor.

Nonetheless its one thing to have done the job but that doesn’t guarantee that an individual has what it takes to be an instructor at any level. There are those instructors that know the material inside out but couldn’t teach if their life depended on it – funny that’s what may happen with the students as someone’s life might depend on the student knowing the material and the protocols.

The Canadian Red Cross reorganized their whole Instructor development program a few years ago to emphasize the need for instruction on what it takes to be an Instructor and not so much on the material to be taught. As a Red Cross Instructor Trainer (IT) at the Emergency Care level it is incumbent that the Instructor candidate not only meets the criteria to be an instructor but there is support and mentoring throughout the process.

This type of instructor development program has also been adopted by WorkSafeBC. Prerequisites for an instructor candidate include:

Eligibility 5.2.1 To be an instructor of an OFA Level 1 or Equivalent course, an instructor Candidate must:

(a) Be at least 18 years of age prior to instructor training,

(b) Hold a current/valid Standard First Aid Certificate or higher for a minimum of at least one year,

(c) Have successfully participated in a complete OFA Level 1 or OFA Level 1 Equivalent course prior to initial instructor training (i.e., achieve Certification),

(d) Complete a WorkSafeBC Jurisprudence Package if the jurisprudence content is not included in the initial instructor training course. Evidence of completion must be included in the instructor Candidate’s training file, and

(e) Have been employed as a designated OFA Attendant or first aid responder (at a Standard First Aid level or higher) for at least one year

Then there is 5-day Instructor course to participate in, successfully complete and then be monitored as an Instructor by a qualified individual.

Have you got what it takes? I’m always reminded of the old story of the duck gliding along on the surface of the water serenely but underneath the feet are going like crazy. As an Instructor you must appear to be calm and in control, but are you?

Paul Stone

HeartSafe Emergency Medical Solution Ltd.

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