Open letter: the new reality for first aid trainers

Do you remember a time when first aid training was still diverse and broad-based? When experienced and knowledgeable first aid trainers, as well as acute and emergency care professionals, were enthusiastic about offering their know-how in first aid training? Those days seem distant now. The Corona era and the years since have revolutionised the field of first aid training in a way that few expected. Large, even foreign, listed companies have started to enter the field, taking the reins together with the traditional players. This change has reduced diversity and concentrated power. What used to be a source of community strength and charity has now become a competition in which only the biggest have the privilege to succeed.

Whereas in the past, first-aid training opened the door to organising your own training with a large bank of materials, today this freedom is being shackled. Trainers who have paid for trainer training, invested their time and effort to learn how to train to the best of their ability, now have to pay large licensing and user fees for each of their trainees. These fees not only limit the opportunities for smaller operators, but also prevent individual trainers from being competitive in their pricing, while larger organisations enjoy large discounts thanks to their high training volumes. How can a small organisation be competitive when the licensing fees for just one training course can be up to hundreds of euros more for that organisation than for another large one?

And what options are left for the small operator? Build your own training materials and offer customers online training platforms to support modern learning methods? This requires an investment that few individual trainers can afford or understand. This is how first aid training has become a raw business, leaving smaller players out in the cold.

Where did we lose the road?

I know your time is precious, so let me get straight to the point: the world of first aid trainers has changed, and the space we work in is getting more and more cramped every day. Many skilled trainers like you have found themselves cornered, forced to work under larger training organisations, often as subcontractors. But don't forget that you are more than just a line on their books. You are a valuable resource that contributes to the growth of these organisations and brings them the flexibility that the ordinary worker lacks.

When there is lots of trainings to choose from and a shortage of trainers, you are their salvation. But, when the chips are down, you're the first to be forgotten. Isn't it ironic? The big players increase their power by cutting costs - by hiring new, less qualified people at knock-down prices, people who have never set foot in the real world of primary and acute care. They can read through PowerPoint presentations, but when a client asks why a defibrillator is less useful for children, they are speechless. In this world, you are used only as an overflow resource - except when the client demands quality, then again you are trusted.

Then comes the phone call - "Are you interested in continuing to train? Drop your prices." This is familiar, isn't it? And before you know it, you won't get any more training requests unless you agree to drop your prices. And you will, because the bills have to be paid, your family expects that little extra you're used to. And so, these big organisations continue their profit spree, using you and other subcontractors to their advantage, winning tenders at their low cost - until one day, they tender your fees again, and you have to conclude that the game is no longer worth it.

This cycle seems endless. The market is highly competitive, with the big players seeking power through excessive leverage and lowering trainers' fees, and even bigger players seeking power only by lowering trainers' fees. In the end, the first aid training market only serves faceless shareholders and organisation leaders, forgetting what we are here for: to train lay trainers to be able to provide assistance until emergency medical professionals arrive on the scene. Oh, and those growing up with pork-less debt money end up being owned by even bigger ones through corporate mergers.

Swimming upstream

Despite all this, we at Uskalla Auttaa Oy have found our way to growth, and this year we will in fact achieve our best profitability ever. This success is not because we cut our trainers' fees, but because we have the courage to swim against the current. Quality has made us stand out from the crowd - thanks to our extensive team of trainers, who are undoubtedly the most professional in Finland.

We mainly serve organisations and companies that put their real needs and quality first. We have even won public tenders thanks to our incredibly cost-effective approach, never compromising on what we pay our trainers. It is sad to hear that large organisations pay alarmingly low fees to their trainers - we at Uskalla Auttaa Oy do not subscribe to this approach.

It is vital for us that our training courses continue to be delivered by underprivileged professionals, as it is their skills that guarantee the high quality of our training. This principle is at the heart of this paper. It is not our concern if other companies decide to slash their prices - we are confident that there will always be a demand for our quality training. However, our biggest concern is for you, our valued trainers, and the possibility that we may lose you over time. Every qualified professional who leaves the emergency medical services training field inevitably diminishes the quality of the field as a whole. If we allow a massive decline in skills to become the new norm, the top trainers of the future will not measure up to the current professionals. If current trends continue unabated, the result may be that our ability to provide high quality training to all those who need it will inevitably come to an end. We will not compromise on quality, now or in the future.

You, who enable flexibility and foster growth, who maintain and develop your professional skills continuously while working in the field of acute and emergency care, and who are the heart and soul of emergency care training, hold the keys to the future in your hands. Let no one underestimate the immeasurable value you bring to each and every training session. Never lose sight of your own value - do not sell your unique skills at a price that does not reflect their true value. Hold your head high and demand the compensation that is rightfully yours!


Marko Ahtonen
Uskalla Auttaa Oy
044 217 6663

Uskalla Auttaa Oy wishes to stress that the letter is in no way intended to influence the price level of services provided by first aid trainers independently to businesses. The value of these services is determined by market mechanisms and the professionals' own appreciation.

Instead, the main aim is to highlight and remind professionals in the sector that they must retain the right to fair remuneration for their work. 

Recently, many large first aid training organisations have significantly reduced the amount of compensation paid.* They have recruited new first aid trainers by offering them almost half the compensation. At the same time, old trainers are being asked to reduce their fees. If a similar practice of hiring new employees at significantly lower salaries while requiring old employees to take pay cuts or otherwise terminate their employment were applied to regular employment, it would be unlawful.

Uskalla Auttaa Oy aims to ensure that there is healthy competition in the sector, respecting the value of professionalism and ensuring high quality in first aid training. We call on all players in the sector to respect the principle of fair compensation and to avoid unfair practices that undermine the quality of training and undervalue the work of professionals.

*In general, subcontracted training has cost between €45 and €50 per hour, taking into account that the trainers are primary and acute care professionals working alongside their main jobs. According to the information we have received, new first aid trainers have been paid less than €30 per hour by invoice and hourly paid trainees even less than €20 per hour.