First aid in the BAME communities


Accidents and injuries are unfortunate but are a common occurrence in life and when they happen, knowing what to do can be the difference in keeping someone alive long enough for Emergency services to arrive. According to Waheed Hussein a paramedic for eighteen years with experience working in the emergency medical training sector, First Aid knowledge training is not widespread among Black and Minority Ethnic groups especially do not receive the First Aid education necessary. Many accidents and injuries happen at home and by providing female members of BME backgrounds with First Aid knowledge they can save lives of their family and members of their community.

In the Essex Islamic Academy in Barking, The Strengthening Faith Institutions sponsored a  two day Level 2 First Aid provided by Code Red training. Participants came from all over London to take part and gain their accredited First Aid certificate. Participants came from as far as West London, South London and represented different organisations and different faiths such as the Pentecostal Church. Some came to gain knowledge on First Aid for their own personal improvement and others attended to renew or upgrade their First Aid certificate to return to their institutions and become First Aid officers.

I learnt a lot of practical knowledge that can help me save lives, and I feel confident knowing that I can help now if the need ever arises. I enjoyed the course because it was taught in a social and fun atmosphere.” Tamz Islam


I needed to renew my First Aid and I found this very educative and I definitely would do this another course ran by this organization again.Tendai, Pentecostal church.

Code Red’s Waheed Hussain was the facilitator of the two day course and provided invaluable knowledge. He has gained over eighteen years as a paramedic working with different communities in Bradford, with a focus on the large Asian community he has worked with.

As the majority of our participants came from BME backgrounds there was an emphasis on diseases that disproportionately affect ethnic communities. People from a South Asian background are at a higher risk of developing coronary heart disease, which could lead to a heart attack and those over 65 are at a greater risk of having a stroke and people from an  African Caribbean background, are more likely to have high blood pressure.

As most of the participants worked and lived in their local community, they were likely to come across cases of these two illnesses, whether it was someone close to them or members of their community. The class looked at what caused the illnesses and how to recognise them when they occurred and how to react to them to save a life. For example recognising symptoms of stroke through the acronym FAST (Face, Arms, Speech, Time). Many recounted tales of family members that had suffered from these two diseases and recognised the importance of what they were learning.


“I come from a medical background and I thought the theory side was taught in such a way that it was broken down and easy to understand. I also learnt some new information that was helpful. The facilitator spoke at a good pace to allow everyone to understand and ask questions if necessary. The booklets provided were also informative and very helpful.” –  Zara Jaweed, Dagenham Tuition Centre


First Aid covers injuries such as cuts or breaks, and a First Aider must consider dealing with different types of people and understand how to handle different ages and genders accordingly. For example, when applying CPR to an unconscious person one must consider that an adult’s heart beats harder and slower than a child and a newborn baby’s which beats faster. They must also consider that a baby’s chest cannot handle the pressure of an adult’s weight and might actually cause severe damage to them.

A Code Red member and trained paramedic demonstrates how to give CPR to a baby, by applying pressure with two fingers 30 times before breathing in twice and restarting the process.

Two participants working towards their First Aid certificate by demonstrating on dummies how to properly apply CPR to two different age groups.

The aim for this course was to increase First Aid skills among the BME community and provide them with the skills and tools to save lives. At the end of the two day course the participants left the course as accredited First Aiders with a better knowledge of the human body and equipped with life saving training to serve their community and save members of the public. An integral skill faith institutions should have.