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Guidance for Outdoor First Aid Training

IOL Statement of Good Practice

Outdoor First Aid

First Aid Competence is an essential part of operating as an outdoor learning practitioner. The Institute for Outdoor Learning recognises and supports the provision of Outdoor First Aid training that is delivered at the appropriate level, by trainers with outdoor knowledge and assessed in a fair and relevant way.

Outdoor First Aid Training Standards

Guidance for Outdoor First Aid Training

Outdoor First Aid Questionnaire


 Complete Questionnaire


  OFA Questionnaire Results


This Statement of Good Practice covers training courses specifically designed to cover the requirements for providing First Aid in an Outdoor Learning context. It provides guidance for establishing need, course design and structure, course delivery and trainer and training provider competence and describes five outdoor first aid training bands.

The following organisations have reviewed and support the content of version 3 of this IOL Statement of Good Practice:

  • British Canoeing
  • Mountain Training UK
  • The Mountain Training Board Ireland
  • British Cycling
  • Royal Yachting Association
  • British Association of International Mountain Leaders

The IOL Outdoor First Aid Questionnaire is an online assessment tool that tests knowledge of the first aid situations participants may experience when leading outdoor activities and experiences and the practical considerations / constraints of first aid in that context.

It is particularly suited to:

  1. Providing evidence for current and potential Outdoor First Aid trainers to demonstrate their suitability for delivering First Aid training to the outdoor sector.
  2. CPD for outdoor professionals and first aid trainers.


Outdoor First Aid Course Accreditation

  • Recognised Courses
  • Assessment Principles

Matched Course Content

Look for providers of Outdoor First Aid Training that have self-declared their course content is matched with the relevant band described in this statement using the phrase:

“The content of this course is matched with the IOL Statement of Good Practice on Outdoor First Aid at Band #”

Aligned Course Badges

To obtain an IOL Aligned First Aid Course badge download and sign the self-declaration and email with a copy of your course scheme of work (training programme) PLUS details of your trainer/assessor qualifications. The Institute will check the course content and trainer qualifications are aligned and send a high-resolution image. There is no charge for this service.

IOL Band 3 - Two Day


IOL Band 2 - One Day


IOL Course Accreditation (optional QA process)

Individual First Aid Training Providers that have completed an IOL Quality Assurance process will display the IOL Accredited Course badge on publicity material and certificates.


IOL Accredited Outdoor First Aid Course


IOL Course Accreditation demonstrates a course is relevant to outdoor instructors, teachers and leaders and offers assurance that the course includes a clear aim, learning outcomes, assessment for learning and is delivered by knowledgeable trainers.

Course Accreditation of Outdoor First Aid Courses requires the course to align with the requirements of this statement and for trainers delivering the course to have completed the online assessment tool - IOL Outdoor First Aid Questionnaire.

The First Aid Awarding Organisations Forum (FAAOF) have created a set of principles relating to assessment of Outdoor First Aid training to meet the IOL First Aid Training Statement of Good Practice. The assessment principles cover:

  1. Occupational competence of trainers/assessors
  2. Quality Assurance
  3. Sources of evidence to be maintained and made available to External Quality Assurers

First Aid Awarding Organisations Forum

Membership of the FAAOF is open to Awarding Organisation/Bodies that are recognised/accredited by Ofqual, Qualifications Wales, SQA and/or CCEA to offer First Aid qualifications. The Institute for Outdoor Learning acts as guardian of these Outdoor First Aid Principles on behalf of the FAAOF and publishes the document on the IOL website.

Summary of Outdoor First Aid Training Bands


Band Title Typically appropriate for the needs of
1 Outdoor First Aid
Professionals working in a low-risk outdoor environment with the means to access qualified first aid provision if required, e.g. walking in a park, etc.
2 Outdoor First Aid
[1 Day]
Outdoor activity instructors, teachers or leaders operating in locations with close access to further support e.g. activity instructor, sports coach, primary / secondary teacher, rural visit leader, etc.
3 Outdoor First Aid
[2 Day]
Self-reliant outdoor activity instructors, teachers or leaders and outdoor learning specialists operating in situations where a number of hazards may be present or help may be up to a few hours away, e.g. outdoor education tutor, mountain leader, D of E assessor, bushcraft instructor, forest school leader, canoe expedition leader, etc.
4 Outdoor First Aid
Outdoor professionals requiring specialised training to operate in complex environments when professional help may be multiple hours or days away, e.g. mountain guides, overseas expedition leaders, mountain / fell / cave / marine rescue teams, etc.
CPD Outdoor First Aid
Those wishing to maintain, broaden or further develop their skills and knowledge in first aid.

Help Shape Future Revisions

The IOL Statement of Good Practice is seen as an evolving document that responds to the demands and needs of the sector, as well as guidance from HSE and other relevant bodies. The current version (3.1 August 2020) is an evolution from a series of development meetings and discussions with a range of first aid training providers and awarding bodies that began in Autumn 2015.

The IOL Outdoor First Aid Questionnaire has been developed by a range of IOL members involved in delivering Outdoor First Aid Training. The question set is open to revision and will be expanded over time to ensure questions are current, relevant and appropriate for the needs of the sector.

The Institute is open to supporting an Outdoor First Aid Training Research or Professional Discussion Group to guide future revisions to this statement if there is support from within the membership and wider sector. Please get in touch with the IOL Professional Standards Manager with your comments.


Outdoor First Aid Historical Notes

Development Meeting - March 2014

The notes are available from a meeting held in Manchester to consider an appropriate approach to the maintenance and development of standards in outdoor first aid training and assessment. Thanks to all who were able to attend, resulting in a good cross section of stakeholders. A healthy debate was had and a list of those present can be found on the attached notes.

Initial Consultations - 2013

Following the HSE announcement (2012) that they intended to withdraw from approving First Aid Training providers, the Institute for Outdoor Learning consulted with a range of Outdoor First Aid stakeholders to establish the current need and to consider what minimum standards for the content and delivery of Outdoor First Aid training and assessment might look like. The HSE guidance on the content of generic First Aid qualifications lays out the basic requirement for an employer, though has a limited amount to assist outdoor practitioners. Some NGB's do provide further guidance on the content of First Aid training to meet the needs of their own awards, though some leave this to the discretion of the practitioner.

It is apparent that many of the currently recognised courses delivered by outdoor practitioners for outdoor practitioners contain appropriate content and do so at a variety of levels. From both an employers and a practitioners point of view, there is scope to make things clearer by standardising minimum content for these courses. There is also a definite need to provide more certainty around the way in which course content is delivered to ensure skills are developed and assessed in an appropriate environment, as well as acquisition of knowledge. Finally, there is also a need to build on the HSE's guidance on minimum trainer competency to ensure Outdoor First Aid trainers understand the needs of outdoor and remote environments and that they access appropriate CPD to maintain the currency of their skills and knowledge

The Institute's initial consultations led to a proposed framework, a copy of which is attached and the working group behind this is now seeking wider feedback. The framework is designed to support maintenance and development of standards in Outdoor First Aid provision and to provide reassurance to employers looking to fulfil their due diligence obligations.



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