Teaching first aid

Our first training courses for first aid began in 1924 after a scholarship from the League of the International Red Cross paid for Sister Jessie Lewis to train as a nurse in England.

On her return she started teaching home nursing classes for Red Cross in Taranaki, where she was appointed the first Red Cross nurse. Sister Lewis also made home visits during the polio epidemic in the 1920s. In less than six months, 429 people had signed up to take the course. Red Cross nurses began teaching this course in North and South Taranaki, Canterbury and Otago.

The first aid courses run by New Zealand Red Cross in the 1920s gave detailed explanations about how the human body works and the steps a first aider should take to treat a person properly until a doctor can be reached.

Each year, a New Zealand nurse was provided with a scholarship to study in England and when she returned she taught home nursing and first aid in her region. By the end of 1929, courses were being taught in North Taranaki, South Taranaki, Wellington, Canterbury and Otago. The number of attendees during 1929 was 1,957.