Timeline of first aid

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This is a timeline of first aid, describing significant events in the development of the field. Instrumental and drugs used in first aid kits are described. First aid, as a profession in its own right, has a recent history of only 120 years.

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Time period Development summary
18th century Attempts at artificial respiration using bellows inserted into the mouth were often attempted for patients in near drowning episodes.[1]
19th century In the mid-century, the First International Geneva Convention is held and the Red Cross is created to provide "aid to sick and wounded soldiers in the field."[2] By the end of the 19th century, hundreds of thousands of St John first aid certificates are awarded in four continents.[3] The term "first aid" appears in 1878. In the late century, first aid kits are released by Johnson & Johnson. Along the century, the tracheostomy procedure becomes well established.[1]
20th century Throughout the century, first aid kits expand to meet new needs. They are customized for homes, schools, travelers and the workplace.[4] In the 1920s, first aid kits are created for unique purposes or carry the names of specific companies and organizations. The 1950s see the introduction of individual items in a first aid kit being packaged in small cardboard boxes.[5]
21th century While first-aid kits have changed and become more advanced and technical over time, the original intent remains the same.[6]

Full timeline

Year Event type Details Location
3rd century BC Field development Homerus of Byzantium documents the story of Alexander the Great performing a tracheotomy with his dagger point to save one of his troops from asphyxiation. The soldier is said to be choking.[1]
1099 Field development The first recorded history of first aid dates to the formation of a religious order of knights trained to administer medical treatment.[7]
1546 Field development Italian physician Antonio Musa Brassavola describes a successful tracheostomy, used to treat a patient with peritonsillar abscess. The patient makes a full recovery, the first recorded occurrence.[1] Italy
1740 Field development The Paris Academy of Sciences officially recommends mouth-to-mouth resuscitation for drowning victims.[8] France
1767 Organization A society for the preservation of life from accidents in water is started in Amsterdam.[9] Netherlands
1773 Field development English physician William Hawes begins publicizing the power of artificial respiration to resuscitate people who superficially appeared to have drowned.[10] United Kingdom
1788 Field development British surgeon Charles Kite, in London, describes the use of a curved narrow metal catheter inserted into the larynx via the nostril in a blind technique, which then could be used to apply ‘bellows’ respiration.[1] United Kingdom
1792 Field development The French Army Surgeon General forms the first official army medical corps. People are trained and equipped for working away from the field hospitals. Their task is to administer first aid on the battlefield and where necessary remove the casualty to the field hospital by carrying them or on carts.[7] France
1863 Organization The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is formed.[11]
1860s Field development The first Geneva Convention and the International Red Cross come into being to protect and deal with sick and injured soldiers on the battlefield.[7]
1870 Field development German military surgeon Friedrich von Esmarch introduces formalized first aid to the military. Von Esmarch authors a handbook of military surgical technique and institutes training in first aid for civilian and military personnel.[12][13] Germany
1870 Organization The British Red Cross is formed.[7][14] United Kingdom
1878 Field development Two British military officers, Surgeon-Major Peter Shepherd of the Royal Herbert Military Hospital, Woolwich, London, and Colonel Francis Duncan establish the concept of teaching first aid skills to civilians. This radical new enterprise, conducted under the auspices of the newly formed St John Ambulance Association, is considered a natural evolution from the body's philanthropic and ambuance transport work.[3]
1878 Field development The term “first aid” first appears in Britain and is thought to be derived from “first treatment” and “National Aid”.[7] United Kingdom
1878 Field development Surgeon Major Peter Shepherd and Dr Coleman run the first public first aid course in London.[7] United Kingdom
1881 Organization The American Red Cross is founded in Washington, D.C. by pioneering nurse Clara Barton.[15] United States
1888 Instrumental American company Johnson & Johnson begins making the first commercial first aid kits.[16] United States
1891 Field development Dr. Friedrich Maass performs the first equivocally documented chest compression in humans.[8]
1898 Instrumental During the Spanish-American war in 1898, Johnson & Johnson releases small first aid kits that could be carried by soldiers. First aid kits would be used extensively by all armies in the First and Second World Wars.[5] United States
1898 Instrumental A patent by Jerome B. Dillon for a new type of umbilical bandage uses an "antiseptic, absorbent cotton pad" to carry out its function.[17] United States
1899 Drug Bayer introduces aspirin.[18] The drug, is considered an essential for a travel first aid kit.[19] Germany
1901 Literature (book) Johnson & Johnson publishes the Hand Book of First Aid, the first comprehensive, commercially available guide to first aid in the United States. The guide aims at teaching Americans about basic hygiene and emergency care.[4] United States
1903 Instrumental Johnson & Johnson introduces the Household Accident Case, a small kit intended for it—household use.[20] United States
1903 Field development Dr. George Crile reports the first successful use of external chest compressions in human resuscitation.[8]
1906 Instrumental Johnson & Johnson introduces the Autokit. The case's contents—including burn ointment— are meant to help treat injuries during car accidents.[20] United States
1910 Policy All American workplaces with more than three employees are required to have basic medical supplies.[4] United States
1911 Field development The Holger-Nielsen method of cardiopulmonary resuscitation, a manual method of resuscitation popular around the turn of the 20th century, is described in detail in the edition of the Boy Scouts of America Handbook. It would become widely used until the 1950s.[10] United States
1920 Instrumental The Band-Aid, one of the most famous pieces of home medical care, is released as an addition to the first-aid kit.[6][21][22]
1920 Instrumental Johnson & Johnson introduces the Factory Case, meant for use in manufacturing facilities.[20] United States
1921 Instrumental Johnson & Johnson introduces the Travelkit, a pocket-sized first aid kit containing items to treat minor injuries when traveling to areas where medical care is limited.[20] United States
1925 Instrumental Johnson & Johnson introduces the Boy Scout First Aid Kit, created to teach scouts proper first aid techniques.[20] United States
1927 Instrumental Johnson & Johnson introduces the Aerokit, designed for the flight travellers to use on the small one- to two-passenger planes of the day, and including burn emollient, a miniature first aid chart with instructions on how to treat plane-specific injuries in the air and on the ground, and aromatic spirits of ammonia, which could be used to revive a passenger who lost consciousness in the air. The metal case comes in a heavy cloth bag, with a loop attachment, so it could be attached to the aviator’s belt or to the inside wall of the plane.[20] Unitd States
1933 Field development The American Red Cross starts teaching people to save choking persons by slapping them on the back.[23] United States
1941 Instrumental Carlisle Kits are introduced during World War II, after the U.S. military decides to improve the quality of soldiers' first aid supplies and begins packaging them in a wallet-sized, watertight metal container.[20] United States
1942 Instrumental Johnson & Johnson introduces the Vacation First Aid Kit, clocked in at only 5 inches wide and 4 inches long, and designed as an easy-to-pack item for travelers, containing antiseptic cream, a roll of bandages, gauze and a set of first aid instructions.[20] United States
1945 Drug Diphenhydramine, an antihistamine, is introduced.[24] The drug is used to treat allergies, and considered essential in travel first aid kits.[19]
1954 Field development American physician James Elam becomes the first to prove that expired air was sufficient to maintain adequate oxygenation.[8] United States
1956 Field development Austrian physician Peter Safar and James Elam invent mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.[8]
1957 Field development The United States military adopts the mouth-to-mouth resuscitation method to revive unresponsive victims.[8] United States
1960 Field development Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is developed. The American Heart Association starts a program to acquaint physicians with close-chest cardiac resuscitation and becomes the forerunner of CPR training for the general public.[8] United States
1961 Drug Ibuprofen is discovered by Stewart Adams and initially marketed as Brufen.[25][26][27]
1964 Instrumental Johnson & Johnson introduces a snake bite first aid kit.[5] It includes a scalpel and plunger, meant to be used to suction snake venom from the skin. It also includes an ammonia inhalant that could help rouse an unconscious bite victim.[20] United States
1969 The journal Transactions of the American Broncho-Esophagological Association warns that back slaps are killing people.[23] United States
1970 Policy The Red Cross changes its policy on back slaps, and publishes a manual reading: "Do not allow anyone to slap you on your back if you are choking and do not try to dislodge an object from another person's throat by this means except as a last desperate effort to save his life."[23]
1972 Field development Leonard Cobb holds the world's first mass citizen training in CPR in Seattle, Washington called Medic 2, helping train over 100,000 people the first two years of the programs.[8]
1973 Instrumental Johnson & Johnson introduces the Marine First Aid Kit, a waterproof and buoyant case, including medications for seasickness and heat exhaustion, as well as an S-shaped plastic tube meant to help revive victims of drowning.[20] United States
1974 Field development American thoracic surgeon Henry Heimlich introduces his new technique later called Heimlich maneuver, a first-aid procedure for dislodging an obstruction from a person's windpipe in which a sudden strong pressure is applied on their abdomen, between the navel and the ribcage.[23] United States
1980 Literature (book) First Aid in Mental Health, by Joy Melville, is first published.[28] United Kingdom
1989 Organization The European Resuscitation Council is established, with aims at providing the standard for resuscitation guidelines and training in Europe and abroad.[29]
1992 Literature (book) The American Red Cross First Aid and Safety Handbook is published by the American Red Cross, and Kathleen A. Handal.[30] United States
1995 Field development The United States Department of Transportation issues a manual for an intermediate level of training called "First Responder".[31] United States
2000s Field development The LUCAS Chest Compression System is designed to help improve outcomes of sudden cardiac arrest victims and improve operations for medical responders.[10]
2000 Field development The Mental Health First Aid Program is developed in Australia by Betty Kitchener and Anthony Jorm.[32] Australia

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See also

External links


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 "A Brief History of Endotracheal Intubation". paediatricemergencies.com. Retrieved 6 January 2019. 
  2. "First Aid: From Witchdoctors & Religious Knights to Modern Doctors". medicinenet.com. Retrieved 18 November 2018. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 "The earliest days of first aid". doi:10.1136/bmj.309.6970.1718. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 "The Birth of the First Aid Kit". jnj.com. Retrieved 4 January 2019. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 "The 130-Year History of the First Aid Kit". firstaidshoppe.com. Retrieved 4 January 2019. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 "History of the First-Aid Kit". providerprepared.com. Retrieved 4 January 2019. 
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 "History of First Aid". magnifiedts.com. Retrieved 18 November 2018. 
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 8.5 8.6 8.7 "History of CPR". heart.org. Retrieved 4 January 2019. 
  9. The Monthly Review, Or, Literary Journal, Volume 49. 
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 Shanbhag, Madhura; Desai, Brinda; Desai, Vidhi; Bhowmick, Mita. "Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation – "Retrieving pulses down the years"". International Journal of Research Studies in Science, Engineering and Technology. 
  11. "Historical background - First Aid for all". ifrc.org. Retrieved 18 November 2018. 
  12. Kühn, Michael. "Antiquariat" (PDF). antiquariat-banzhaf.de. Retrieved 4 January 2019. 
  13. "Friedrich von Esmarch". britannica.com. Retrieved 4 January 2019. 
  14. "The beginning of the Red Cross". redcross.org.uk. Retrieved 4 January 2019. 
  15. "The History of First Aid in the Army". howstuffworks.com. Retrieved 4 January 2019. 
  16. "From 1888 to 2013: Celebrating the 125th Birthday of the First Aid Kit". kilmerhouse.com. Retrieved 3 January 2019. 
  17. Dillon, B. (8 Nov 1898), US Patent #613,761, retrieved 2016-11-29 
  18. "From a tree, a 'miracle' called aspirin". cnn.com. Retrieved 4 January 2019. 
  19. 19.0 19.1 "First Aid Kits". emedicinehealth.com. Retrieved 4 January 2019. 
  20. 20.0 20.1 20.2 20.3 20.4 20.5 20.6 20.7 20.8 20.9 "Safety First: 12 Outside-the-Box First Aid Kits Made by Johnson & Johnson". jnj.com. Retrieved 4 January 2019. 
  21. "BAND-AID BRAND HERITAGE". band-aid.com. Retrieved 4 January 2019. 
  22. "THE INVENTION & HISTORY OF BAND-AID BRAND". bandaid.ca. Retrieved 4 January 2019. 
  23. 23.0 23.1 23.2 23.3 "Historical Essay: The Heimlich Maneuver". abea.net. Retrieved 5 January 2019. 
  24. History of Allergy (K.-C. Bergmann, J. Ring ed.). 
  25. Halford, GM; Lordkipanidzé, M; Watson, SP (2012). "50th anniversary of the discovery of ibuprofen: an interview with Dr Stewart Adams.". Platelets. 23 (6): 415–22. PMID 22098129. doi:10.3109/09537104.2011.632032. 
  26. Halford, GM; Lordkipanidzé, M; Watson, SP. "50th anniversary of the discovery of ibuprofen: an interview with Dr Stewart Adams.". PMID 22098129. doi:10.3109/09537104.2011.632032. 
  27. "Ibuprofen at 50: The love affair with painkillers". bbc.com. Retrieved 4 January 2019. 
  28. Melville, Joy. First Aid in Mental Health. 
  29. "European Resuscitation Council". erc.edu. Retrieved 5 January 2019. 
  30. "The American Red Cross First Aid and Safety Handbook". Retrieved 3 January 2019. 
  31. "Emergency Medicine 2: First Responder". s2institute.com. Retrieved 4 January 2019. 
  32. "Mental Health First Aid: Program grows from humble Canberra beginnings to train people worldwide". abc.net.au. Retrieved 4 January 2019.