Page last updated at 00:59 GMT, Monday, 12 April 2010 01:59 UK

First aid 'could save thousands' - St John Ambulance

Beth Chesney-Evans believes first aid should become a compulsory subject at school

A wider knowledge of simple first aid techniques could save thousands of lives each year, the St John Ambulance charity has said.

It is focusing a new campaign on five health emergencies which account for 150,000 deaths each year in England and Wales.

These include heart attacks, choking and severe bleeding.

The charity is offering a free pocket guide which it feels will boost the survival chances of many more patients.

It believes that if confident first aiders were present on more occasions, many lives would be saved.

Around 2,500 people die each year from a blocked airway, but if someone had known the recovery position, lives could have been saved
Sue Killen, St John Ambulance

This view is backed by the World Health Organisation, which also says "bystander first aid" can make a difference and should be encouraged.

The charity's own poll suggests that most people would still not feel confident attempting first aid techniques, while a quarter would do nothing and wait for other people or paramedics to arrive.

Its chief executive Sue Killen said: "We believe that anyone who needs first aid should receive it.

"Our latest research shows that's just not happening. We can't rely on other people to have the skills - everyone should take the responsibility to learn first aid themselves.

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

Crash tragedy

First aid dummy
First aid knowledge is much higher in other European countries

Beth Chesney-Evans' son died in 2008 following a motorcycle accident near his Oxfordshire home.

She said she didn't know if he could have survived, even with first aid, but that it might have given him a chance.

"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."

Fotini Rozakeas, a cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation, said: "In life threatening situations it's vital that we all know what to do before professional help arrives as it's bystanders, often a relative, who are first on the scene.

"Every year around 140,000 people have a heart attack and around one in three die before reaching hospital.

"Calling 999 promptly and knowing what to do in those crucial minutes can make a big difference to a person's chance of survival."

The booklet is available free of charge from the St John Ambulance website, or by texting LIFE to 85010, contains simple instructions on treating patients with heart symptoms, bleeding, choking, or who are unconscious, either breathing or not breathing.

Print Sponsor

Many 'lacking first aid skills'
10 Sep 09 |  Health
Pupils learn about stab wounds
16 Jan 09 |  Education
First aid concern after girl dies
30 Apr 08 |  Bradford
Fears for teaching of first aid
24 Apr 07 |  Wales
First aid resource for UK schools
13 Feb 07 |  Education
Pupils 'need first aid training'
08 Sep 06 |  Education

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Times Online Protesters defiant after deadly Bangkok clashes - 9 hrs ago
Observer Phantoms that haunt the people return - 11 hrs ago
The Independent He loves death metal, guns and feeding hens he must be a goalie - 12 hrs ago
The Scotsman Polish president Lech Kaczynski dies in plane crash - 25 hrs ago
Telegraph Gas given to baby to prevent brain damage in world first - 31 hrs ago

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific