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Be an emergency aider: head injuries

Learn the signs and symptoms of head injuries and find out what you should do to help.
Plan a session with this activity

You will need

  • Big pieces of paper
  • Sticky tack
  • Pens or pencils
  • Bandages

Before you begin

  • Make sure the person leading the activity knows about first aid. Someone from your group or local area with a first aid certificate could take charge, or you could reach out to places that help provide first aid training or support, for example, St John Ambulance or the British Red Cross.
  • You’ll need enough leaders for the activity, including enough people who are happy to demonstrate first aid techniques.
  • Adults should only demonstrate and practise first aid on other adults; young people should only demonstrate and practise first aid on other young people. Adults and young people should never demonstrate or practise first aid on each other.
  • Remember that this activity touches on topics that might be sensitive for some people. Give everyone the opportunity to step away if they need to compose themselves.
  • Make sure you have enough bandages for everyone to practise – this is a great chance to use up any out-of-date supplies to save breaking into your first aid kit.
  • Write ‘AVPU’ down the left edge of the A3 paper and stick it up somewhere everyone will be able to see it.

Learn what to do

  1. Everyone should chat about head injuries. Talk about what can cause them and the differences between minor and serious head injuries.
  2. Have a quick chat about the signs and symptoms of minor head injuries.
  3. Explain to everyone about the AVPU scale. Talk about how it involves checking alert, verbal, pain, and unresponsive, and write each word on the piece of A3 paper for everyone to see.
  4. Show everyone how to treat someone who has a minor head injury, including putting on a bandage. They should use another adult as the casualty and explain what they’re doing every step of the way.
  1. Everyone should get into pairs of young people. They should take it in turns to practise putting a bandage on their partner’s head. Make sure some adults are walking around so they can help if anyone’s finding it tricky.
  2. Once everyone’s finished practising, they should gather back together.
  3. Next, explain how serious head injuries are different to minor head injuries. Talk everyone through the signs and symptoms and what a first aider would do.


This activity was all about developing skills and being responsible. Understanding the difference between minor and severe head injuries and knowing what to do could help save someone’s life. Can anyone remember the acronym for checking a person’s responsiveness? People could remind themselves of what each of the letters in AVPU means. Some activities have a higher risk of head injuries: can anyone think of activities with a very low or slightly higher risk? People could think about playing board games compared to adventurous activities and sports like horse riding and rugby. Why is it important that people playing sports or having adventures know what to do in an emergency?


All activities must be safely managed. Use the safety checklist to help you plan and risk assess your activity. Do a risk assessment and take appropriate steps to reduce risk. Always get approval for the activity and have suitable supervision and an InTouch process.