First Aid+ as a Living Art

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By: Laura Josephson and Jeanne Schirm
The art of providing first aid stands in a distinctive position among the healing arts. It requires not only a caregiver's knowledge and skill, but also the courage to step into unforeseen circumstances with the will to offer aid to another human being.

Among our health care needs, the treatment of trauma and injury is universal to the human condition. Traumatic events carry the element of the unexpected and the need for immediate care, highlighting the importance of preparedness. If we are not prepared to meet such events, the results can be devastating. Therefore, a working knowledge of first aid should be the domain not only of health care professionals: anyone who wishes to be of service to his fellow man, regardless of his occupation or station in life, would do well to take up this art as a practical and life-affirming skill.

The impulse to come to another's aid in times of distress is exemplified in the image of the Good Samaritan, who reminds us of our human capacity to love our neighbor -- irrespective of nationality, bloodlines, or geographical borders. This love exists not only as a feeling, but becomes an active deed of service.

Historically, the establishment of an organized system of first aid arose during the 19th century, out of the work of Jean Henri Dunant, a Swiss humanitarian. So taken by the horrors of war and seeing the suffering of those injured and left on the battlefield to die, he organized emergency services to aid both Austrian and French wounded at the Battle of Solferino in June 1859. Credited with founding the Red Cross, he proposed the formation of international voluntary relief services at the Geneva Convention in 1864 and helped to establish the first multilateral agreement among governments for the care of the war wounded, whether enemy or friend. The Red Cross would later become an international movement, its scope extending beyond aid to soldiers, prisoners, and civilian victims of war. Today it is also renowned for providing worldwide humanitarian relief to victims of natural disasters, instruction in first aid and accident prevention, and water safety training.

Shortly after the outbreak of World War I, Rudolf Steiner addressed the sufferings of war and care for the wounded through a series of lectures and practical first aid courses, given on the stage of the first Goetheanum. One such, known as the Bandage Course, 1 was given in 1914 out of a need to bring hope and spiritual insight to the events of the war. The themes resounding from these lectures are that, above all, one must trust in the force and power of the spirit, and that from this, one will be guided toward the right action in times of emergencies. Steiner also spoke of the necessity to imbue man's spiritual striving with a feeling of brotherly love, so that the Christ impulse may work in us. Through this kind of spiritual striving combined with practical skill, we prepare for what life brings. One may say, "Wherever these events may take us, whatever they will demand from us, we will act in confidence of the victory of the spirit." These themes are just as relevant today as they were nearly a century ago.

Among the many homeopathic first aid remedies, Arnica stands as the universal trauma remedy and has often been referred to as "the helios of the gods." Wonderfully healing for a wide range of first aid conditions, Arnica may be applied externally in various forms, as well as taken internally. Hypericum, Symphytum, Rhus fox and Calendula are also great healers and, along with Arnica, are among some of the best remedies for conditions such as strains, sprains, fractures, bruises, and cuts. Remedies for emotion trauma and acute distress include Ignatia, Aconite, Rescue Remedy, and Melissengeist.


Standard Materials:
Sterile gauze pads 2x2 and 4x4 Roller gauze
Triangular bandages (to hold dressings in place or to make an arm sling)
Band-aids in assorted sizes
Antiseptic wipes
Scissors and tweezers
Instant cool packs
Disposable gloves
Resuscitation mask or face shield
Saline eyewash
Syrup of ipecac
Activated charcoal
Rescue blanket
Flashlight (with extra batteries in a separate bag)
Antibiotic ointment

Homeopathic Additions:
Homeopathic internal remedy kit
Rescue Remedy drops
Arnica ointment
Arnica essence
Melissengeist drops
Calendula ointment or
Hypercal ointment (blend of Hypericum and Calendula)
Hypercal tincture
Burn Care gel
Sting gel
Euphrasia tincture (for eye irrigation)

1. Thoughts for the Times, on the Destinies of Man and Peoples

Laura Josephson, CCH, RSHom(NA) is a certified classical homeopath with a private practice in Nyack, New York. She is the author of the recently published book, A Homeopathic Handbook of Natural Remedies, (Random House, 2002)

Jeanne Schirm, RN currently works as a school nurse in the public school system and also serves as a consultant to Green Meadow Waldorf School. She is an instructor for the American Red Cross and the American Heart Association.


By combining the best of conventional, classical homeopathic and anthroposophical first aid healing principles, Jean Schirm, and Laura Josephson have developed a unique, artful, and lively training program that aims to impart the knowledge, skill, and confidence needed for anyone to provide first aid effectively.

Informed in part by Rudolf Steiner's Bandage Course, the two-day training offers hands-on practical skills, including the art of bandaging, applying compresses, immobilizing an injured limb, and stopping bleeding. Vital emergency assessment skills are also taught, enabling participants to recognize and treat conditions such as shock, heat exhaustion, and many types of injuries. A variety of classical homeopathic and anthroposophical remedies are presented in detail so that participants can administer them effectively in a wide range of emergency conditions. Live first aid scenarios are enacted, inviting participation from volunteers. For more information email

Keep on hand for more urgent conditions

ACONITE – ANXIETY, fright, panic attacks, restlessness, FEAR OF DEATH; EMOTIONAL SHOCK, from trauma or seeing frightful events; EYE INJURY, also SUDDEN ONSET OF FEVER, often with thirst, after exposure to cold or wind; first stage of COLDS or flu.

APIS MELLIFICA - INSECT BITES, ALLERGIC REACTIONS, HIVES; much swelling of affected area, heat, redness, stinging and burning pains; symptoms are worse from heat, better from cool applications.

ARNICA MONTANA - TRAUMA, physical (or emotional); from a FALL, BLOW, ACCIDENT, many types of INJURIES; traumatic SHOCK; fractures, bruising, bleeding; achiness and injuries from physical exertion. Person says, "I'm fine" when evidently not.

ARSENICUM ALBUM – Nausea, diarrhea, vomiting; FOOD POISONING; FLU-like symptoms accompanied by weakness, restlessness, and anxiety; CHEMICAL POISONING; Chilliness, thirst for small sips often; fearful to be alone and worried expression.

BELLADONNA –INFLAMMATION; SUDDEN ONSET OF FEVER, hot, red, dry, skin; HEAT STROKE with red face; HEADACHE, throbbing; SORE THROAT, TONSILLITIS, EARACHE; pulsating pains; feels better lying in the dark.

CANTHARIS - SCALDS AND BURNS, where BLISTERS form that burn and itch; severely painful burns; also for urinary tract infection with marked burning pains.

CARGO VEGETABILIS – FAINTING, COLLAPSE; WEAKNESS, difficult breathing; DROWNING; ASPHYXIATION; wheezing; blueness of skin, coldness, with a desire to be fanned: "air hunger;" Carbon gas poisoning, lack of oxygen; also BELCHING, flatulence, bloating after eating with strong desire for fresh air.

HYPERICUM – NERVE PAIN from trauma, especially to fingers, toes, teeth; crush injuries, puncture wounds, or superficial wounds with sharp, shooting pains; SPINAL INJURY, WHIPLASH; sharp pains in teeth following dental procedures.

LEDUM PALUSTRE –First remedy for most PUNCTURE WOUNDS, many insect bites including lyme-ticks; tetanus; Affected part often feels cold and is relieved by cold applications; Also for eye trauma.

RHOS TOXICODENDRON - BACK STRAINS, SPRAINS, overexertion injuries; to joints, tendonitis; pains are worse during first movements after rest, and feel better after continued gentle motion; "rusty gate" syndrome, with restlessness; also POISON IVY rash. —Laura Josephson and Jeanne Schirm


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