First Aid & Mental Health Courses in English
Interested in updating your emergency training in English? HealthFirst provides CPR and First Aid certification along with a number of other courses for mental and physical health in several locations across Switzerland. This article also includes a 'Check list for Health and Safety in Switzerland' with emergency numbers, apps and German phrases.
HealthFirst was founded in 2008 by Dr. Michelle Wright and Dr. Penny Fraser. The
organization was created as a way to meet the needs for first aid training and the promotion of general health for the English speaking community in Geneva. Since that time, the organization has expanded its course offerings as well as the locations in which the courses are offered. All classes are evidence-based and taught by highly qualified instructors.
Today, HealthFirst is led by Dr. Michelle Wright and Dr. Mecky McNeil. Dr. McNeil has focused on the mental health side of the organization since 2018.
All of the classes offered by HealthFirst are taught in English by trained professionals. The
staff at HealthFirst consists of 15 specialists in their fields with diverse backgrounds and skill
Interview with Ali Mackinnon of HealthFirst
After recently completing the CPR and First Aid Course as well as the Swiss Resuscitation
Council Basic Provider Course, I felt compelled to reach out to HealthFirst. I believe the
courses they offer the English speaking community are not only fantastic, but can literally be
lifesaving. Ali Mackinnon, the Marketing and Communications Coordinator was kind enough
to field several of my questions about HealthFirst.
Question: What is the mission of HealthFirst or the value proposition of the organization?
Answer: We maintain the highest professional standards and our services reflect the latest
international guidelines and practices. This means that companies and individuals can be
certain that they are getting the best training using the most up-to-date methods from highly
qualified health care professionals.
Our English-speaking clients appreciate that the courses are led by native English-speaking
doctors, nurses and midwives who adapt and tailor their teaching to their specific needs.
Question: You currently offer courses to companies, schools and the general public. Does HealthFirst provide specialized courses depending on the needs of your clients?
Answer: All of the courses offered through HealthFirst are approved courses that are evidence based, coming from a real point of knowledge from trained professionals. We try to keep the course offerings straight forward and simple for groups. If a group has a course that is of interest, if a location can be secured, a course can be tailored to fit the specific needs of that group.
HealthFirst currently offers the following courses:
• Health Seminars and Workshops
• First Aid Training
• CPR and Emergency First Aid for Babies and Children
• First Aid Training for the Swiss Driver’s License
• Swiss Resuscitation Council Basic Provider Course
• 'ensa' Mental Health First Aid Training
• Health and Well-Being Coaching
• Health Screening Assessments
• Relationship and Sex Education
Question: What can one expect to learn in a CPR and First Aid Training Course? What is the general format of the course? How many hours must one devote for the course and for whom are these classes designed?
Answer: The CPR and First Aid Training courses are four-hours in length. The classes are designed to be interactive, with a step-by-step approach to medical emergencies, which include Cardio- Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) to babies, children and adults. The course also covers First Aid for choking and an introductory lesson on using an Automated External Defibrillator (AED).
The online course, Saving Young Lives, is four and a half hours long, which provides enough
time to make sure the trainer sees everyone practice chest compressions in break out rooms. The course is designed for adults and children from the age of 14, who want to feel
empowered to manage their own health and that of others by being able to assist in an
emergency. Once an individual has successfully completed the course, they are granted a course certificate that is valid for two years.
Question: HealthFirst offers their courses in many areas throughout Switzerland. Can you please tell us where classes are currently being offered?
Answer: Courses are currently offered in: Basel, Zurich, Zug, Geneva, Lausanne, Bern, and mountain communities throughout Switzerland. At the moment, we are working with 40 international schools to offer onsite courses. In addition, we travel to companies and organizations to offer our standard courses or specialized classes based on individual needs.
Question: 'ensa' Mental Health Courses appear to be a new addition to your course offerings. Can you please provide us with a bit of background on these courses?
Answer: Yes, we currently offer 'ensa' Mental Health First Aid with a focus on adults and one with a focus on youth. The courses are internationally recognized and provide the opportunity for individuals to gain insight on how to support family, friends and even colleagues who may be experiencing difficulties with mental health.
Question: If someone wanted to register as an individual or an organization, how would they go about signing up for a course?
Answer: To register for classes, the best place to do so in our the HealthFirst website. Companies can register under the For Companies tab on our website, schools may register under the For Schools tab and the public may register under the For the Public tab.
Please note, that only the public can register for a course through the HealthFirst website. The schools and companies should contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss their individual requirements and to arrange a conversation with either Dr. Wright or Dr. McNeil if
If you are interested in a course that you do not see offered on our website, please reach out
to HealthFirst directly.
Thank you for your time Ali. The courses offered by HealthFirst are phenomenal and I thank
you and everyone for the services you provide.
Check list for Health and Safety in Switzerland
Here is a quick list to help you and your family prepare for an emergency.
1) Have accessible at all times the list of Swiss emergency numbers.
Rega (air rescue): 1414
Europe-wide Emergency Number: 112
2) Download the following apps on your phone.
EchoSOS – This is an emergency app designed to provide the user with emergency calls, local emergency numbers, your personal emergency details and the nearest emergency rooms in the area.
Staying Alive - This free app provides location sites for defibrillators worldwide.
3) Register for a CPR and/or Emergency First Aid Course.
Register for a CPR and/or Emergency First Aid Course today. You never know when you
might need the lifesaving skills provided in the classes. The person who may need you the
most might just be someone you love.
4) Have medical phrases in German available.
It is advisable to have a translation of medical phrases in German available in the event of
an emergency. HeathFirst provides a handy pdf of these phases that you can print it out.
5) Have a well-stocked First Aid Kit
Some tips on how to do this can be found at the Red Cross.
For those looking for helpful information pertaining to health and safety, please have a look
at the HealthFirst website. The blog portion of the website is rich source of information and
don’t forget to tune into Dr. Michelle’s weekly show on World Radio Switzerland.
Sàrl, 5, rue des Sablières,
Tel: +41 21 921 1415
Melinda Taylor Schoutens
Melinda is an American who lives in Basel. She loves exploring the Alps with her husband, two children and anyone else who is up for an adventure. She writes, reads, listens to podcasts, hikes and enjoys sweating at her local gym. She’s passionate about sharing her love of nature with others and has a dream of having a little chalet in the Swiss Alps!