The First Aid Merit Badge: Your Ultimate Guide In 2021


Quick! You’re on a 10-mile hike and one of the younger scouts has just collapsed and appears unresponsive. What do you do? Luckily, once you have the Eagle-required, First Aid merit badge, you’ll be prepared to handle this type of emergency, as well as many others.

If you’re following along with the merit badge worksheet, this guide will provide you with all the answers to the requirements needed to learn the First Aid merit badge. Afterward, you’ll be equipped to handle almost any medical emergency and have the ability to save lives. Grab some buddies! First Aid is most fun when completed as a group of scouts.

Before we get started, if you have other Eagle-required merit badges to earn, I’d recommend checking out my Difficulty Ranking Guide to Every Eagle-required Badge. There, you’ll also find the links to my other merit badge guides, as well as a description and summary of each badge’s requirements. I’m certain this resource will be helpful to scouts on their road to Eagle!

Also, remember that ScoutSmarts should just serve as your starting point for merit badge research. In school, we’re taught not to plagiarize, and the same is true for Scouting worksheets. Answer these questions in your own words, do further research, and I promise you’ll gain much more from every merit badge you earn!

Before you dive into this merit badge, I’d highly recommend purchasing a reliable first aid kit to accompany you on your Scouting adventures. This Survival First Aid Kit on Amazon not only provides all of the medical equipment you’ll need, It can also help save your life if you’re stranded in the wild!

Take your time to read through the official First Aid merit badge requirements below. This badge will take multiple days to earn, and an experienced scout always remembers to plan ahead. The slow and steady method isn’t just the best way to earn the First Aid merit badge, it’s the key to reaching your Eagle rank as well! 🙂

What Are The First Aid Merit Badge Requirements?

  1. Demonstrate to your counselor that you have current knowledge of all first-aid requirements for Tenderfoot, Second Class, and First Class ranks.
  2. Explain how you would obtain emergency medical assistance from:
    a. Your home
    b. A remote location on a wilderness camping trip
    c. An activity on open water
  3. Define the term triage. Explain the steps necessary to assess and handle a medical emergency until help arrives.
  4. Explain the universal precautions as applied to the transmission of infections. Discuss the ways you should protect yourself and the victim while administering first aid.
  5. Do the following:
    a. Prepare a first-aid kit for your home. Display and discuss its contents with your counselor.
    b. With an adult leader. Inspect your troop’s first-aid kit. Evaluate it for completeness. Report your findings to your counselor and Scout leader.
  6. Describe the early signs and symptoms of each of the following and explain what actions you should take:
    a. Shock
    b. Heart attack
    c. Stroke
  7. Do the following:
    a. Describe the conditions that must exist before performing CPR on a person. Then demonstrate proper CPR technique using a training device approved by your counselor.
    b. Explain the use of an automated external defibrillator (AED). Identify the location of the AED at your school, place of worship, and troop meeting place, if one is present.
  8. Do the following:
    a. Show the steps that need to be taken for someone who has a large open wound or cut that is not bleeding severely.
    b. Show the steps that need to be taken for someone who has a large open wound or cut that is severely bleeding.
    c. Tell the dangers in the use of a tourniquet and the conditions under which its use is justified.
  9. Explain when a bee sting could be life-threatening and what action should be taken for prevention and for first aid.
  10. Describe the signs and symptoms and demonstrate the proper procedures for handling and immobilizing suspected closed and open fractures or dislocations of the
    a. Forearm
    b. Wrist
    c. Upper leg
    d. Lower leg
    e. Ankle
  11. Describe the signs, symptoms, and possible complications and demonstrate care for someone with a suspected injury to the head, neck, or back.
  12. Describe the symptoms, proper first-aid procedures, and possible prevention measures for the following conditions:
    a. Anaphylaxis/allergic reactions
    b. Bruises
    c. Sprains or strains
    d. Hypothermia
    e. Frostbite
    f. Burns—first, second, and third degree
    g. Convulsions/seizures
    h. Dehydration
    i. Muscle cramps
    j. Heat exhaustion
    k. Heat stroke
    l. Abdominal pain
    m. Broken, chipped, or loosened tooth
  13. Do the following:
    a. Describe the conditions under which an injured person should be moved.
    b. If a sick or an injured person must be moved, tell how you would determine the best method. Demonstrate this method.
    c. With helpers under your supervision, improvise a stretcher and move a presumably unconscious person.
  14. Teach another Scout a first-aid skill selected by your counselor.

Before we dive into the details, let’s discuss what exactly needs to be done before earning the First Aid merit badge. You’ll be required to explain, demonstrate, and act out many skills related to treating an injured person, which you’ll be learning in this guide. In the process, you’ll learn CPR, prepare your own first aid kit for emergencies and even improvise methods of transporting an injured person!

1) Demonstrate to your counselor that you have current knowledge of all first-aid requirements for Tenderfoot, Second Class, and First Class ranks.

At the end of your merit badge workbook should be a section that recaps the first aid requirements for Tenderfoot through First Class. I’d like to help you to answer each of these, but there are more than 20 topics that should be covered, which would be too much to include in this guide. Here are the first aid answers for Tenderfoot.

Luckily, you should already know most of the answers from your own Scouting experience. Take the time to review each first aid concept with your merit badge counselor.

Explain how you would obtain emergency medical assistance from:
2a) Your home

Calling 911 is the simplest and most effective way to reach emergency medical services from home. When speaking with a 911 dispatcher, immediately inform them of 4 things:

  1. The emergency: Use as much detail as possible to quickly describe the emergency. Instead of saying “my friend is unconscious” say, “My friend fell off a 6 ft ledge and hit his head. He’s breathing and not bleeding, but is currently unconscious, and has been for the last 3 minutes.”
  2. What’s currently happening: Is anyone performing CPR or taking first-aid measures? Quickly tell the dispatcher how the situation is being handled.
  3. Your location: Be as precise as possible when describing your location. Instead of saying an address or a school’s name, say, “I’m by the bleachers next to the football field of x school.” Send someone to meet with and guide the responders to you, if possible.
  4. Your phone number: EMS may need to call you back if they are unable to find you. In case your call disconnects, make sure to give the dispatcher the phone number that you’re currently calling from.

Stay on the line until help arrives and be sure not to leave the victim unattended.

Poison control can also be reached at 1-800-222-1222, but should only be called in poisoning instances which are not immediately life-threatening. If phones are unavailable, seek help from a neighbor. You do this by shouting, if possible, so as not to leave the victim unattended.

2b) A remote location on a wilderness camping trip

Before embarking on any wilderness outing, be sure to inform a trusted adult of your plans. Tell them the trip’s location and expected duration so that in an emergency situation they will be able to contact and dispatch rescue services to you. 

Oftentimes, you will be able to contact emergency personnel by cell phone. However, if you are unable to do so but are relatively close to civilization, you should send people back in vehicles who will call for help from the nearest phone.

If lost, do not leave your vehicle or campground. Larger objects are more likely to be found by rescue personnel. Signal fires should only be used as a last resort. Do not start a forest fire.

To truly be prepared to camp safely, I’d highly recommend checking out my Ultimate Guide To The Camping Merit Badge!

2c) An activity on open water

Every vessel should be equipped with a Marine VHF radio which can be used to contact help on emergency channel #16. If the boat can be moved, navigate it into more trafficked water and signal for help.

Flying a flag upside down from a boat is also an international sign for distress, and should be done if no immediate rescuers are in sight. If rescuers are visible, signal to them by lighting flares, waving a brightly colored shirt, or by using smoke.

3) Define the term triage. Explain the steps necessary to assess and handle a medical emergency until help arrives.

In a situation where multiple people are injured, triage refers to the process of determining the extent of each individual’s injuries, then prioritizing their order of treatment based on severity. Basically, you’ll assess how injured each of the victims are, then treat those with life-threatening injuries before those with minor injuries so that the most people can survive.

There are different types of triage techniques, but they almost all rely on grouping patients into 3 main categories. Watch the video (6:09) below for an in-depth understanding of the SALT Triage system:

To recap what you’ve just learned, triaging is done when there is insufficient medical personnel to ensure the most survivors. To properly triage, you must first assess the victim’s condition. First, examine these four factors:

  • Airway
  • Breathing
  • Circulation/Coma/Convulsion
  • Dehydration (severe)

If the victim is critically at risk in any of these areas, they’re deemed an ‘emergency (Red)’ case and receive treatment as soon as possible. If the victim is exhibiting symptoms that appear not to be immediately life-threatening, they are deemed as a ‘priority (Yellow),’ and receive treatment following the emergency cases. Non-urgent issues are placed into ‘queue (Green)’ and are handled after the priority cases.

4) Explain the universal precautions as applied to the transmission of infections. Discuss the ways you should protect yourself and the victim while administering first aid.

Contact with bodily fluids can lead to the transmission of bloodborne pathogens. These pathogens can cause you illness and infection. One should always treat bodily fluids with caution and use protective barriers to prevent contact, when possible. Never use your bare hands to prevent bleeding, as this could put both you and the victim at risk of infection.

Make sure, after administering first aid, to safely disinfect or discard all contaminated items and thoroughly wash your hands with soap. To not infect others, biological waste should be put in designated receptacles or bagged twice before disposal.

Do the following:
5
a) Prepare a first-aid kit for your home. Display and discuss its contents with your counselor.
5b) With an adult leader. Inspect your troop’s first-aid kit. Evaluate it for completeness. Report your findings to your counselor and Scout leader.

To learn about some of the the first aid essentials you’ll need in your home and vehicle, watch the following video (4:05):

The picture below gives you an example of what you might typically find in a great first-aid kit. The Survival First Aid Kit I found on Amazon has all of these things and more, so I’d highly recommend it if you’re looking for a compact and dependable first aid kit. Below are the elements of a great first aid kit, with each item number corresponding to the item’s name:

At the very least, the first aid kit you purchase should be equipped with:

  • Bandages
  • Gauze Pads
  • Gloves
  • Sting Relief
  • Elastic Bandages
  • Tweezers
  • Antiseptic Wipes
  • CPR Masks
  • Moleskin Blister Covers
  • Safety Pins

You can check your troop’s first aid kit against this list to see if anything should be added. Remember to replace your first aid kit’s contents every few years, as most first aid supplies expire.

Describe the early signs and symptoms of each of the following and explain what actions you should take:
6a) Shock

Shock is your biological response to trauma and results in the weakening of blood flow throughout the body. This reaction can be caused by a variety of factors such as severe injury, dehydration, heart failure, allergic reaction, and blood loss.

A person who is in shock will often have clammy skin, cold sweats, and paleness of skin. They will likely have difficulty taking full breaths and may faint unexpectedly.

When treating shock, try to calm the victim. Have them lie down, and cover them with a blanket. If you notice that their head or feet are pale, elevate the area opposite of where they are low on blood. An easy way to remember this is that if the face is pale, raise the tail, and vice versa. Keep talking to the victim to reassure them, and note down any details around the emergency which could be useful to medical personnel.

6b) Heart attack

Some of the early signs of a heart attack can be severe chest pressure, left arm pain, jaw pain, profuse sweating, gray skin coloring, nausea, difficulty breathing, or a feeling of weakness. You will be learning much more about heart attacks, as well to respond to them, in your upcoming CPR course. 

Without knowledge of CPR, you should immediately place the victim in a seated position with their knees raised and instruct someone nearby to call 911. An AED should also be used in the case of a halted pulse.

Here is a quick and informative video (2:00) on the differences between a cardiac arrest and a heart attack, as these two are often confused:

This video provides a great explanation but is from the UK.Call 911 in a medical emergency.

(This video provides a great explanation but is from the UK.Call 911 in a medical emergency.)

6c) Stroke

Strokes are caused by an interruption of blood flow supplied to the brain. Symptoms of a stroke can be recalled by the simple acronym, FAST:

  • Face drooping
  • Arm weakness
  • Speech difficulty
  • Time to call 9-1-1

While waiting for an ambulance, speak to the victim in a calm and reassuring manner. You can warm them with a blanket as well. However, do not provide them with food or water, as this can cause greater complications after the stroke’s onset. If they fall unconscious and are not breathing, be ready to perform CPR. 

Do the following:
7a) Describe the conditions that must exist before performing CPR on a person. Then demonstrate proper CPR technique using a training device approved by your counselor.

Update: Because this is such an important topic, I actually asked a good friend of mine in the healthcare field to write a complete guide to CPR and AED use! Check it out for an interesting, in-depth explanation on how to save lives using these methods.

While performing chest compressions during cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), you run the risk of using the technique ineffectively and further injuring your victim. Therefore, to gain an understanding of proper CPR technique, you should first complete the CPR certification program before trying to perform this on another person.

Under no circumstances should you perform CPR unless the following conditions occur: 

  • The victim must be unresponsive (Ask, “are you okay?”)
  • They must not be breathing (Ear over their mouth, propping chin up, to check for breathing

(Important note as of 2020: The American Heart Association (AHA) now recommends that as soon as you see an emergency, immediately call for help. If, after checking with the victim (asking are you okay and feeling for air coming out of their lungs), they still appear non-responsive and unbreathing, begin CPR. The AHA recommends the following:

  • Compressions – 30 compressions at 2 inches deep, 100 per minute.
  • If the rescuer is trained in CPR, they should give 2 rescue breaths, otherwise, continue with compressions
  • Rescue breaths begin by tilting the victim’s head back and lifting the chin slightly to open the airway, then pinching the nostrils closed and giving 2 normal breaths, watching the victim’s chest rise and fall.
  • Continuing the cycle of continued compressions or 30 compressions and two rescue breaths.)

Watch the following video (1:56) for a quick visual walkthrough on adult CPR:

7b) Explain the use of an automated external defibrillator (AED). Identify the location of the AED at your school, place of worship, and troop meeting place, if one is present.

An automated external defibrillator, or AED, is used to save lives during sudden cardiac arrest. Most AEDs are equipped with audio or visual instructions for use but all AEDs generally work in the same way. The instructions are as follows:

  1. Turn on the AED and follow the prompts.
  2. Expose the victim’s bare chest, wiping it dry to later attach the AED patches.
  3. Attach the AED pads to the victim, plugging them into the connector if necessary.
  4. Making sure that no one is in contact with the victim, tell everyone to stand clear and press the ‘analyze’ button (this checks for heart rhythm).
  5. If the AED recommends resuscitation, ensure that no one is touching the person by saying “stand clear.” Once clear, press the “shock” button.
  6. Begin CPR after delivering the shock. If no shock is advised, begin CPR. Perform CPR while following the AED’s prompts. If they begin to breathe and show obvious signs of life, discontinue CPR and monitor for changes in condition.

Ready to move on to requirement 8a)? Click here!

Congrats on Finishing The First Half of the First Aid Merit Badge!

Wow, we just covered a ton of info and now the page is even beginning to lag. Great work! Are you starting to become more confident in your first aid skills? You should! You definitely deserve a break at this point; give yourself a huge pat on the back. 🙂

Once you’re ready to continue on to part 2 of the First Aid merit badge (Requirements 8-14) click here!

Also, if you’re interested in the difficulty rankings for every Eagle-required merit badge, you can check out my full guide here! PS: The article also links to my other ultimate badge guides that’ll help you to complete your merit badge worksheets.

Cole

I'm constantly writing new content because I believe in Scouts like you! Thanks so much for reading, and for making our world a better place. Until next time, I'm wishing you all the best on your journey to Eagle and beyond!

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