First aid

First aid could save thousands of lives a year

Two-thirds of us can't save a life

Thousands of lives could be saved each year if more people knew first aid, a leading charity said.

These include around 900 people who choke to death, 2,500 who suffocate from a blocked airway and 29,000 who die from heart attacks.

St John's Ambulance say up to 150,000 people a year could be given a chance to live if more people knew what to do in an emergency.

But a survey of more than 2,000 people carried out for St John Ambulance found that nearly two-thirds of people wouldn’t feel confident enough to try to save a life.

And nearly a quarter of people would do nothing in a life threatening situation, and instead would wait for an ambulance to arrive or hope that a passer-by knows first aid.

Worryingly, around a third would try some first aid even though they are not sure what to do, and risk making the situation worse.

First Aid quiz: could you save a life?

Sue Killen, chief executive officer of St John Ambulance, said: "We believe that anyone who needs first aid should receive it, but our latest research shows that's just not happening.

"Around 2,500 people die each year from a blocked airway, but if someone had known the recovery position, lives could have been saved."

As part of it's new campaign, the charity is offering a free pocket-sized guide featuring first aid skills that can help in five common life-threatening situations: choking, heart attack, severe bleeding, an unconscious person who is breathing and one who is not breathing.

The guide can also be obtained by texting LIFE to 85010. You can also get advice on your iPhone with the St John Ambulance first aid app, available through iTunes.

The campaign is backed by Beth Chesney-Evans, whose 17 year old son Guy died after his motorcycle crashed near his home in Didcot, Oxfordshire. She said: "Guy didn’t die because of a terrible head injury or massive internal bleeding.

"He had no injuries at all but died because his heart apparently stopped and he couldn’t breathe – and those are conditions that first aid is designed to deal with until the ambulance arrives.

"I’ll never know whether Guy could have survived; but because he didn't get any first aid, he didn’t have a chance.

"I’m supporting St John's Ambulance campaign because I want to give others the chance Guy didn't have. I don’t want him to have died in vain."

This article was published on Mon 12 April 2010

Image © Getty

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