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Be an emergency aider: sprains, strains and broken bones

Learn the signs and symptoms of sprains, strains, and broken bones and find out what you should do to help.
Plan a session with this activity

You will need

  • Chairs
  • Bandages
  • Triangular bandages (or scarves)

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 – you’ll need enough for one between two. This is a great chance to use up any out-of-date supplies to save breaking into your first aid kit.
  • Set up the chairs in a semi-circle facing the speaker and get everyone to sit down.

Learn what to do

  1. Have a quick chat with everyone to share what they know about sprains, strains, and broken bones. Do they know what could cause them? What are the signs and symptoms? How could a first aider help?
  2. Explain the signs and symptoms of broken bones, as well as some of the potential causes. They should explain what people can do to reduce the risk.
  1. Ask if anyone knows anything about slings. People should share what they already know – do they know what they’re used for? How can they help someone who’s broken their arm?
  2. Ask another adult to help you demonstrate how to put someone’s arm in an arm sling. Making sure you explain what you’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 their partner’s arm in an arm sling. Make sure there are some adults walking around so they can help if anyone’s finding it tricky.
  2. Everyone should repeat steps five and six with an elevation sling.
  1. Everyone should gather back together and discuss the signs and symptoms of sprains and strains. They should also chat about what causes them and what people can do to reduce the risk of them happening.
  1. As another adult to help you demonstrate how to treat a sprain or strain with RICE (the acronym – not the food!).
  2. Everyone should split into groups of three young people. One person should be the casualty, one person should be the first aider, and the third person should watch and help if needed. They should take it in turns to practise treating a sprain or strain with RICE. Everyone should have a turn at being the first aider.


This activity was all about developing skills and being responsible. Did people think of any ways they could reduce the risk of getting injured in different situations? What about while camping, for example? People could think about the measures they’d put in place to keep people safe – and what they’d do if someone did get injured. Can anyone remember the differences between the signs and symptoms of a broken bone compared to a sprain or strain? How would they treat people for each? If they didn’t have a triangular bandage, what else could they use to make a sling?


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.