A survey has found 86% of people in the North West would be reluctant to perform CPR on victims of cardiac arrest.
The British Heart Foundation says a lack of public knowledge of CPR could be costing lives.
Meanwhile, research by the University of Warwick found people who have been trained in CPR are three times more likely to perform it than those who haven't.
The main reasons for reluctance to step in were fear of causing more harm than good (48%) and lacking the skills and knowledge to perform CPR (40%). But experts warn that the benefits of performing CPR far outweigh the risks, as survival rates are almost zero if people collapse and get no support until paramedics arrive.
There are more than 30,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests every year in the UK, and devastatingly fewer than 1 in 10 survive. But according to the BHF, if survival rates matched those reported in Norway, where CPR is taught more widely, as many as 5,000 lives could be saved.
Every minute without CPR or defibrillation can reduce a person’s chance of surviving a cardiac arrest by around ten per cent.
A survey of people in the North West found:
- Only 43% would feel confident giving CPR to a stranger
- 74% would offer a stranger a seat on the bus
- 82% would give directions to a stranger
- 22% were able to identify the two signs of a cardiac arrest, which are when someone is not breathing or not breathing normally, and that they have collapsed and are unresponsive.
The figures have been released today on Restart a Heart Day – an annual day to increase awareness of the importance of CPR.
The BHF, Resuscitation Council (UK), St John Ambulance, British Red Cross, Greater Manchester Fire & Rescue Service, North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) and all the UK NHS ambulance services along with Fire & Rescue services are working together to train more than 150,000 young people across the UK in the largest ever CPR training event of its kind.
Simon Gillespie, Chief Executive of the British Heart Foundation, said: “CPR may be the difference between life and death for hundreds of people every year in the North West who suffer a cardiac arrest. Every second counts, and it simply isn’t enough to hope that someone who knows CPR is present.
“We need everyone in the North West to learn this life-saving skill to give them the confidence to step in and give CPR when someone collapses after a cardiac arrest.
“That’s why we are urging secondary schools across the UK to apply for our free training kits and help create a Nation of Lifesavers.”
Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham said: “I am delighted to be part of this year’s Restart a Heart Day and look forward to learning CPR alongside Greater Manchester schoolchildren while supporting the European campaign. “The more people that are trained in giving CPR and feel confident to step in and help someone suffering from a cardiac arrest the better – and it’s thanks to the likes of Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service and North West Ambulance Service that even more people will today become life-savers, including myself.”
David McNally, Community Engagement & Resuscitation Manager at NWAS, said: “Cardiac arrest kills people and the power to change this lies within our communities.
“Knowing what to do in an extreme emergency situation cannot be underestimated. CPR skills are so simple to learn and they absolutely do save lives. We are targeting secondary schools because children pick up new skills with ease and can take them into adult life.”
Click here to find out how you can teach CPR in your school, workplace or community group.