A question constantly asked by potential candidates – “what is the difference between FPOS and FREC?

It’s all about horses for courses!

FPOS course hertfordshireThere was once just one accredited training course above and beyond the popular First Aid at Work and this was FPOS-I, by Edexel/Pearson.

It wasn’t the only ‘medic’  course available, there were, and still is a vast array of in-house unregulated courses for would-be medics, but only FPOS-I was accredited and officially recognised.

FPOS is a brand name owned by Pearson.

New Year’s Eve of 2016 saw the replacement of FPOS-I with the new Level 4 First Person on Scene Certificate and Extended Certificate.

The gossip machine was quick to kick into action and ‘FPOS-I is dead’ was the war cry, many people thought that it was the end of FPOS as we knew it and to add to the rumour mill was the advent of other similar training courses to FPOS – Enter FREC.

Whilst many were mourning the passing of FPOS-I, The Association of First Aiders (AoFA) were redeveloping it, polishing it, achieving accreditation and approval. FPOS-I is indeed alive and well, not dead or dying. Now known as The AoFAQ Level 3 Award in the First Person on Scene Intermediate (RQF).

It is worth adding that The SIA now recognise AoFAQ Level 3 First Person on Scene Intermediate (RQF) for the Close Protection within the Private Security Industry Qualification.

The SIA require officers in Close Protection Security Industry to hold a suitable first aid related qualification.  This course is recognised by the SIA when applying for the Close Protection licence. It is also envisaged the new FIRST PERSON ON SCENE INTERMEDIATE will be the preferred course for the security industry including the Maritime Security sector.


So, Pearson is now running Level 4 First Person on Scene Certificate and in addition there is an Extended certificate.

AoFA Qualifications came in with Level 3 First Person on Scene

Highfield introduced Level 3 First Aid Response Award

Qualsafe introduced Level 3 First Response Emergency Care Award


Note the slight variations in titles

Of the four suppliers, what is the difference in courses and which is best for you.

Course Level RCS TQT GLH NDLH Assessment Accredited
First Person on Scene Certificate
4 Yes 177 88 89 18 Assignments
Skill test
Online test
AoFA Qualifications
First Person on Scene Award
3 Yes 30 24 6 MCQ + Practical Yes
First Aid Response Award
3 No 32 32 0 MCQ + Practical No
First Response Emergency Care Award
3 Yes 153 35 118 13 Practical Assessments
4 x Skill test
3 x MCQ Papers
First Person on Scene Extended Certificate
 4  Yes  184  98  86 19 Assignments
Skill test
Online test


Note that there are ‘awards’ and ‘certificates’

The difference between an Award and a Certificate is based on the number of hours required to complete the course.
An Award is achieved when a qualification is under 130 hours. Where a course is between 130 and 360 hours they are designated a Certificate.
Q: When does a certificate become a diploma?
A: Students attending courses over 360 hours are awarded a Diploma.
Q: Why is FREC L3 an award when it is 153 hours?
A: This has been designated an Award because of the lower amount of GLH ‘Guided Learning Hours’ (35 hrs)



To understand the top line and comments underneath here is a list of explanations.

FPOS courses in hertfordshire


Level 3 courses, students will need to ‘describe’ or ‘demonstrate’, whereas on Level 4 courses, students are expected to be able to ‘explain’ or ‘discuss
The course has been endorsement by the Royal College of Surgeons (RCS) Faculty of Pre-Hospital Care.

The RCS is without question the UKs most credible advisory body on pre-hospital care and has endorsed the course where it says ‘yes’.

Means “Total Qualification Time”, this represents the total number of hours required to complete the course in total.

Means “Guided Learning Hours” this represents the minimum number of hours of personal. trainer to trainee (face-to-face) delivery that the training provider must deliver.  On top of these hours, other elements can be included such as ‘blended learning’, this could be a mix of face-to-face teaching together with on-line education and assessment. It must be noted that this does not include pre-course study.

Means “Non-Directed Learning hours”, basically they are the remainder of the TQT.  Students spend these hours in their own time on studying, they need to record and evidence their learning prior to achieving the qualification, be mindful that the hours do not include assessments.

When considering best use of non-directed learning, think about topics that can add value to a CPD portfolio.

There are many ways to assess students in courses, some have simple Multiple-Choice Questions (MCQ) papers, others require written assignments, skills tests, and practical assessments or indeed a combination.

Results of assessments are a pretty good indication of the student’s level of understanding and deliver a score which will be compared with the minimum score required to pass the course.

If you see ‘QCF’, this means a qualification is accredited by Ofqual and recognised on the older Qualifications and Credit Framework.

If you see RQF, this is the newer Regulated Qualifications Framework.

FPOS course in HertfordshireThe Highfields Level 3 First Aid Response is not externally accredited neither is it endorsed by the RCS.

It does not mean it is inferior but accreditations certainly add credibility to the qualification.
The AoFA Level 3 First Person On Scene is accredited on the RQF framework and it has the prestigious RCS approval and approved bt the SIA (Security Industry Association)..

When it comes to assessments both have the same assessment format but the AoFA one is 2 hours shorter.

The other courses; Level 3 FREC and Level 4 FPOS are very much longer than the AoFA Level 3 First Person On Scene.

fpos training courses bedfordshireSo, back to the question, ‘what is the difference FPOS and FREC?’


The tables below are divided into modules and then topics. It is easy to see which of the four courses cover the topics. Please not that the last column on the right is Pearson Level 4 whilst the others are level 3.

Scene Assessment Highfields AofA Qualsafe Pearson
Roles and Responsibilities Yes Yes Yes Yes
Minimising the Risk of Infection Yes Yes Yes Yes
Consent Yes Yes Yes Yes
When to call for help Yes Yes Yes Yes
Incident Records & Medical Documents Yes Yes Yes
Risk Assessment Yes Yes Yes
Incident Management Yes Yes Yes
Clinical Handover Yes Yes
Emergency Services Capabilities Yes Yes
Triage Yes Yes
Manual Handling Yes Yes
Abuse and Safeguarding Yes
Radio protocol Yes Yes

As you go through the content comparisons, you will soon be able to filter which First Person on Scene is right for you.

Casualty Assessment Highfields AoFA Qualsafe Pearson
Primary Survey Yes Yes Yes Yes
Level of Consciousness Yes Yes Yes Yes
Secondary Survey Yes Yes Yes Yes
Airway anatomy Yes Yes
Airway Assessment Yes Yes Yes Yes
Safe Airway Position Yes Yes Yes Yes
Suction Yes Yes Yes
Oral Airways Yes Yes Yes
Nasal Airways Yes Yes
Choking Yes Yes Yes Yes
Adult BLS Yes Yes Yes Yes
Child BLS Yes Yes Yes
Infant BLS Yes Yes Yes
Modifications (pregnant, neck breathers) Yes Yes
ROLE Yes Yes
DNS and Advanced Notifications Yes Yes
AED Yes Yes Yes Yes
Oxygen Yes Yes Yes
BVM Yes Yes Yes
Non-Rebreather Masks Yes Yes Yes
Pocket Mask Yes Yes
Nasal Cannula Yes Yes
Venturi Mask Yes Yes
Pulse Oximetry Yes

Some First person on scene courses cover certain topics that others don’t.

Injuries Highfields AoFA Qualsafe Pearson
Types of bleeding Yes Yes Yes Yes
Hypovolaemic Shock Yes Yes Yes Yes
Circulatory Anatomy Yes Yes Yes
Catastrophic Bleeding Yes Yes Yes
Direct Pressure Yes Yes Yes
Indirect Pressure Yes Yes Yes
Tourniquets Yes Yes Yes
Haemostatic Agents Yes Yes
Burns and Scolds Yes Yes Yes Yes
Minor injuries Yes Yes Yes Yes
Eye Injuries Yes Yes Yes Yes
Musculoskeletal Yes Yes Yes Yes
Spinal Injury Yes Yes Yes Yes
Chest Injury Yes Yes Yes
Spinal Stabilization Yes Yes Yes
Helmet Removal Yes Yes
Embedded Objects Yes Yes
Crush injury Yes
Frostbite Yes


Illnesses Highfields AoFA Qualsafe Pearson
Respiratory Anatomy Yes Yes
Asthma Yes Yes Yes Yes
Asphyxia Yes Yes Yes
Hypoxia Yes Yes
Hyperventilation Yes Yes
Lower Respiratory Tract Infections Yes
Poisoning Yes Yes Yes Yes
Anaphylaxis Yes Yes Yes Yes
Heart attack Yes Yes Yes Yes
Angina Yes Yes Yes
Stroke Yes Yes Yes Yes
Diabetes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Seizures Yes Yes Yes Yes
Meningitis Yes Yes
Septicaemia Yes Yes
Appendicitis Yes
Hypothermia Yes Yes
hyperthermia Yes Yes
Dehydration Yes Yes
Exhaustion Yes Yes


Before you choose a course, what do you want to do in the future?

Bear in mind,even some employees are confused by FREC and FPOS and may favour one from the other due to ‘word on the street’  rather than proper solid knowledge.

The Highfields Level 3 FAR appears to have considerably less course content in comparison with the other First Person on Scene courses and could be described as an extended First Aid at Work. This doesn’t suggest the quality is any worse than other First Person on Scene course, it is simply lesser in content and probably a padded out FAW..

The AoFA Level 3 First Person on Scene is very similar to the original FPOS-I course, and indeed very similar to FREC 3, ideally suited to first responders and security operatives, or any individual encountering a medical emergency,  because it goes beyond FAW and well into many other topics including catastrophic bleed management. Pound for pound it is worth comparing with Highfields. This qualification is geared towards providing the knowledge and skills required to stabilise a patient for up to forty minutes until an ambulance or other pre-hospital care provider arrives on Scene.
It is approved by the Security Industtry Association because it is more suited towards their sector and enables progression up to a Level 4 Diploma..

It can be argued that First Responders ought to embark upon the new Level 3 Ambulance Service First Responder training course, and will be mandatory for all CFRs but the ASFR may not be recognised anywhere other than by the ambulance service..

Level 3 Ambulance Service First Responder training course is a nationally recognised course and will provide CFRs with a better understanding of their role as a CFR and ultimately better patient care. FutureQuals is the awarding body.

Note that ‘first respnders’ may not be CFRs but are personnel who arrive first on scene as well as emergency services such as police and fire, as well as military that respond to ambulance service 999 cals (co-responders).

The Level 3 FREC may be more suited to those wanting to embark upon a career in the ambulance Service rather than first responders and security. Like FPOS-I it is also endorsed by The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh – Faculty of Pre-Hospital Care. It is five days in duration, FPOS-I  is 30 hours. There are pathways (some desribe as fast tracks or ‘back door’) to gaining a paramedic qualification. Level 3 is aimed at First Rresponders, Level 4 to ECA standard, Level 5 similar to EMT and Level 6 is route to paramedic.FPOS framework also allows progression to the higher education framework to gain Paramedic.

The Level 4 FPOS is a natural progression from Level 3 First Person on Scene. It is a 7 day course, attendees are taught the roles and responsibilities of a First Responder, core emergency care, recognising and managing trauma and medical conditions, incident management and a wide variety of advanced first aid theory and practical skills. Level 4 FPOS also includes triage casualties, stabilising accident and trauma victims,  assisting Paramedics and official handover procedures, it also includes safe methods of extracting casualties from vehicles and accident kinetics.

Hopefully you can now see the difference between FPOS and FREC and might decide that there is not much in it, you may feel that AoFA Level 3 First Person on Scene is shorter and cheaper than its counterpart (FREC) with the same results.

There is no ‘industry standard’ no matter what people say, NHS Ambulance Trusts are leaning towards their own controlled AAP, plus their new one for CFRs but it may not be favoured on your CV because of its focus on Ambulance whereas FPOS-I is trully focused on providing the knowledge and skills required to stabilise a patient for up to forty minutes until an ambulance or other pre-hospital care provider arrives on Scene.

Some may feel restricted with AAP compared with FREC and FPOS.

It’s all about horses for courses!
















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