1 in 3 Brits not confident saving lives with first aid

July 28, 2017
  •  32 per cent of people wouldn’t feel confident enough to administer any kind of first aid in an emergency situation
  • ‘Fear of making things worse’ is main barrier to people not wanting to give first aid 
  • People feel least confident administering first aid on a child or a stranger
  • Brits consider their main distraction to be when they are ‘in a rush’ (27.5 per cent) or when ‘using a mobile phone or tablet’ (21 per cent)

Bystander confidence is at a low

A recent survey of 2,000 UK adults, not currently qualified in first aid, revealed that Brits lack confidence when it comes to administering basic first aid in an emergency situation.

The research, provided by OnePoll and commissioned by e-Learning expert Virtual Collfirstaidege, reveals that 32 per cent of people wouldn’t feel confident enough to give even basic first aid to a casualty, if an accident occurred.

1 in 10 people admit they wouldn’t know what to do in an accident where a person had collapsed, after the emergency services have been called. Similarly, 87 per cent of people didn’t know to check first for dangers before approaching a casualty, which could unintentionally land themselves in difficulty.

After it was recently found by the University of Manchester that first aid training could prevent 60 per cent of deaths from injury, it is important that bystanders feel confident assisting in an accident.

Barriers to giving first aid

The main reason given by participants for not wanting to administer first aid, is that they feared they would do it wrong and that they might possibly make the situation worse. Here is a list of the top reasons for not wanting to give first aid:

  1. Fear I would do it wrong, and possibly make things worse (39.85 per cent)
  2. I’m not qualified to give first aid (21.1 per cent)
  3. I don’t know any first aid (15.7 per cent)
  4. I would feel that someone else is better qualified (7.1 per cent)
  5. I wouldn’t want the responsibility (5.25 per cent)
  6. I’d rather someone else took charge (2.65 per cent)

People would feel least confident administering first aid to a child (28.5 per firstaid1cent) or a stranger (27 per cent).

Only 5.8 per cent of Brits would feel confident treating a fracture or broken bone and only 13.95 per cent would feel confident performing the Heimlich manoeuvre. When it came to CPR, only 15.85 per cent of respondents would feel confident administering this in an emergency.

Despite a lack of confidence, most Brits did show a willingness to improve their first aid knowledge, with 70 per cent stating that they would consider taking an online first aid course if they felt it could help save a life.

Technology impacts on awareness levels

It is important to be aware in public as accidents can occur at any place and any time. Most respondents claim to be very aware of their surroundings, but the top 5 situations where they felt most unaware were:

  1. Watching a film at the cinema (33.25 per cent)
  2. When at home or in the garden (26.55 per cent)
  3. When out shopping (26.5 per cent)
  4. Travelling on public transport (18.2 per cent)
  5. Walking down the high street (17.05 per cent)

Brits considered their main distraction to be when they are in a rush to get somewhere (27.5 per cent), or when they were using their mobile phone or tablet (21 per cent).

The research found that awareness levels varied amongst age groups, with older respondents feeling the most aware of their surroundings and also the least likely to find mobile phones to be a distraction.

Technology is often considered to be a big distraction in modern day life, particularly for younger generations, and this data could suggest that there is a need for more awareness on this subject.firstaid

Beating the bystander effect

A lack of confidence as a bystander is not uncommon, the Bystander Effect is a widely known phenomenon used to explain people’s behaviour in an emergency. When someone witnesses an incident where other people are present, many feel that they are not qualified enough or do not have the right skills to assist, assuming that somebody else will step in to help.

Dinesh Bhugra is an Emeritus Professor of mental health and cultural diversity at King’s College London. Bhugra commented on the bystander effect, “Being a witness to a serious incidence, people experience a number of emotions. These may include anxiety, anger, and frustration. Initial response may be fright or flight. Some may freeze whereas others will deal with the incident by jumping in enthusiastically and help. Immediate response will depend upon personality, previous exposure, previous training in matters like first aid and knowledge about the incident.

An important task is being trained in cardio-pulmonary resuscitation and First Aid. These skills will enable individuals to gain confidence. These basic lifesaving skills can contribute to confident handling of situations where people’s lives may be at risk. It is possible that if people have no training and are not aware, then they may cause considerable damage in spite of the best will in the world.”

To help people learn about first aid and reduce the impact of the bystander effect, Virtual College have created a useful First Aid Guide for Bystanders on their website. Virtual College also offer an online first aid training which provides knowledge to learners on how to safely assist in an incident

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