Dramatic numbers dying from lack of first aid


Up to 150,000 people a year could be given a chance to live if more people knew first aid, says charity St John Ambulance, as it launches a hard-hitting campaign to encourage more people to learn this vital skill.

Thousands of people are dying each year in situations where first aid could have made the difference. This includes nearly 900 people who choke to death, 2,500 who asphyxiate from a blocked airway and 29,000 who die from heart attacks*.

First aid could make a dramatic difference in these situations, either through direct intervention, in the case of choking, or by recognising life-threatening signs, such as a heart attack, and caring for someone until medical help arrives.

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

Beth Chesney-Evans
Mother of Guy, who believes he died from a lack of first aid
The startling figure is more than four times the number who die of lung cancer each year, the most common cause of death from cancer.

Startling lack of first aid knowledge

Research** commissioned by the charity has also revealed that:

  • Nearly two-thirds of people (59%) wouldn’t feel confident enough to try to save a life
  • A quarter (24%) would do nothing and wait for an ambulance to arrive or hope that a passer-by knows first aid.

The charity is urging everyone to get a free pocket-sized guide featuring first aid skills that can help in five common life-threatening situations*** by clicking here or texting LIFE to 85010. The message is supported by a dramatic new advertising campaign depicting these five situations in which first aid could have been the difference between a life lost and a life saved. The public are also encouraged to donate to the charity to help others become ‘the difference’.

Be the difference

Sue Killen, CEO, St John Ambulance comments: ‘Around 2,500 people die each year from a blocked airway, but if someone had known the recovery position, lives could have been saved. We’re urging everyone to text to claim a free first aid guide today.’

A life lost – Guy Evans

The campaign is backed by Beth Chesney-Evans, who believes her son might be alive today if he had been given basic first aid. Guy Evans died in August 2008, when he was 17, after his motorcycle crashed near his home in Didcot, Oxfordshire.

Beth Chesney-Evans comments: ‘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.

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

Take action

St John Ambulance is committed to ensuring everyone has the basic first aid knowledge that could save someone's life. To get your free pocket-sized guide, just text LIFE**** to 85010 or click here. You can also get advice on your iPhone with the St John Ambulance first aid app, available through iTunes.

* Using death registration data from the Office of National Statistics, 2008

**Research conducted by ICM, February 2010, using a weighted sample of 2045 adults aged 18+. ICM is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. Further information at www.icmresearch.co.uk

***The five common scenarios tackled in the adverts and in the free first aid guide are: Choking, heart attack, severe bleeding, an unconscious person who is breathing and one who is not breathing

**** Texts to this number are charged at standard network rate.