First aid essentials as Red Cross announces cuts

In a move that breaks decades of tradition, the British Red Cross announced last month that it will stop providing first aid at events.

The charity says that this is part of a cost-cutting drive to save an estimated £1.8 million a year spent on providing volunteers for sport and community events, and the service will close from March 31, 2020.


With this in mind, it is timely to ensure you are equipped to deal with potential injury with a comprehensive first aid kit, and know of the kind of items that you may need to use.

Here’s a checklist of the essential first aid kit items you should be aware of, particularly during festivals and outdoor events.

Plasters and bandages

A range of plasters, bandages and dressings.
A range of plasters available at First Aid Warehouse.

It’s best to carry plasters in a variety of sizes and shapes to deal with all manner of minor wounds across the body. Small cuts and scrapes that draw small amounts of blood are common injuries at bustling festivals and sports events.

Washproof plasters are a good choice if you have sustained a cut to your hand or the wound area is likely to come into contact with rain or water outdoors.

Ensure you also carry an assortment of bandages, including triangular and crepe rolled bandages. Triangular bandages commonly serve as large dressings and slings for an injured arm or shoulder. Crepe bandages hold dressings in place and tend to sprained ankles and wrists. 


Large sterile first aid dressing.
A large sterile dressing for first aid.

Wound dressings come in a variety of sizes and you should keep a mix within your first aid kit. Dressings apply pressure to larger wounds and work to stop bleeding. You will also need adhesive medical tape to keep dressings in place. This is additionally good for holding down the loose ends of bandages.

Disposable gloves

A nurse wearing disposable medical gloves.
Disposable medical gloves come in a range of materials.

Medical gloves are an essential item for treating wounds, ensuring that the chance of infection is kept to a minimum. This goes for both the person with the injury and the person treating them. Pack non-sterile gloves to protect yourself and sterile gloves for treating a person with wounds or burns. 

Disposable gloves are also an essential item within the catering industry, protecting the skin while cleaning and preventing contamination in food preparation environments. They come in a variety of sizes and materials that range from vinyl to latex, nitrile and polythene. You can read up on the qualities of each material here.


Emergency thermal blanket for first aid.
Emergency thermal blankets can regulate body temperature.

Emergency blankets are used to prevent a patient from going into shock. They work by comforting the casualty and retaining their body heat. Due to the material used, thermal blankets also keep the body cool in hot environments by reflecting sunlight.

Another blanket found in first aid is a fire blanket. These offer one of the quickest and most direct methods of administering emergency burn care. Easy to use, the blankets are soaked in gel which helps to ease pain and cool a burn while protecting against airborne contamination. They are also used to extinguish flames on a victim and put out small fires. You’ll be glad to have one of these to hand should your festival campfire go wayward.

Medical wipes

A box of medical first aid wipes.
Sterile medical wipes are used to clean wounds.

Sterile medical wipes are used to clean wounds and the skin around them. Hand sanitiser is also a good item to have readily available during first aid. With soap and clean water not always on hand at busy outdoor events, this allows you to wash your hands at the scene of an accident before and after treating injuries.


Scissors have a multitude of uses.

Smaller first aid accessory items can be crucial during an emergency. Scissors are common in first aid kits and are used to cut bandages, tape, and even clothing if it is obstructing a wound. 

While not an 'essential' item for first aid kits, safety pins are useful for holding bandages together and, together with tweezers, removing splinters.

Eyewash and dressings

Sterile eye wash and eye dressing station.
Emergency eyewash and dressing station.

Emergency eyewash stations contain eye wash bottles and pods that work to remove foreign matter, such as grit, from an eye while minimising damage and cleansing the area. Eye dressings are used in the event of an injury are both sterile and highly absorbent. Our eyes can be just as vulnerable to knocks as the rest of our body in vibrant festival crowds. 


A semi-automatic defibrillator.
A semi-automatic defibrillator.

The use of an AED (automated external defibrillator) can greatly increase the survival chances of a heart attack victim while they await the arrival of an ambulance. You will find defibrillators in many public places and as part of the first aid equipment in workplaces. The availability of AEDs at events and festivals will be handled by the organisers.

Automatic defibrillators are designed to be easy to use by those with minimal first age knowledge. The device delivers an electric shock to a stopped heart and can be used on adults and children (aged over one year). Always ensure that an ambulance has been called when someone is suffering from cardiac arrest. 

Biohazard kits

A body fluid disposal kit for first aid.
These kits ensure you dispose of body fluid safely.

Infections and toxic chemicals can spread quickly if not handled and disposed of safely. Biohazard kits and clinical waste bags are clearly marked with a hazard symbol and can be used for everything from used bandages to needles and tissues. If you are unfortunate enough to have picked up an injury at an event, be sure to discard your medicinal and clinical waste cleanly for the benefit of yourself and those around you.

At First Aid Warehouse you’ll find all the items you need to complete your comprehensive first aid kit. We can also offer discounts for bulk and repeat orders. Contact us for further details.

First aid