Burn injuries treated with adequate immediate first aid are associated with more favourable outcomes, limiting tissue damage and subsequent morbidity including the need for surgery. Cool running water at a temperature of between 10-15 degrees C for 20 to 30 minutes is considered adequate burn first aid treatment. A prospective audit of all new patients (n = 227) with burns, attending the minor burn facility at Royal Perth Hospital showed only 88 (39%) patients received appropriate first aid. Fifty percent of patients receiving inappropriate first aid, had this delivered by his or her primary health care contact. This study aims to determine the knowledge of burns first aid among healthcare workers (HCW) and compare this to the general population. A customized survey was performed, four sample cases were included with 4 possible answers in a multiple choice format. All case studies asked the participant to record immediate first aid management. On a case by case basis, burn first aid knowledge was fair but overall knowledge very poor, only 18.8% of respondents achieving 4 correct responses. The uptake of first aid courses was high among HCW at 75% but particularly low among the NHCW at 28%. Our study has shown the value of performing such a course, with a statistically significant (p = 0.00) difference between participants who had completed a first aid course and those that had not. The purpose of this study was to quantify knowledge of burns first aid with a view to providing directed education, studies have shown the success of multimedia campaigns. It has been shown that good first aid improves the outcome for the burn patient and this study demonstrates that participation in a first aid course improves knowledge. It is justifiable to progress toward compulsory first aid courses which include first aid of the burns patient to improve outcomes for the community as a whole. (c) 2005 Elsevier Ltd and ISBI. All rights reserved.