Hard-hitting new campaign highlights the importance of first aid

Helpless campaign - man choking

St John Ambulance has launched a new campaign, Helpless, including a new TV advert, which highlights that up to 140,000 people die each year in situations where first aid could have helped save their lives - as many as die from cancer.

The film, which first aired during ITV1's Downton Abbey on Sunday 16 September, follows the journey of a man who is diagnosed with cancer, undergoes treatment, and survives only to die as a result of choking at a family gathering because no one knows the basic first aid that could have saved his life.

Research reveals ignorance about lack of first aid

The campaign comes on the back of new research from St John Ambulance showing that over four times as many of us think more people die from cancer than a lack of first aid – when there is compelling evidence to take both equally seriously.

The main reasons people do not learn first aid are because they think it is too time consuming or it is simply not a priority for them. 41% admit that it would take something as severe as the death of a loved one to make them learn first aid.

No need to feel helpless

Sue Killen, St John Ambulance Chief Executive, said: ‘Cancer is a serious disease, which kills tens of thousands of people each year. When a loved one has cancer, although we do all we can to support them, over three-quarters of people are consumed by a feeling of helplessness.

‘In situations where first aid could help save a life we don't have to feel helpless, because learning life saving skills is so simple. That's why it's so concerning that fewer than 1 in 5 of us knows even basic first aid. This has got to change if we are to stop up to 140,000 lives from being needlessly lost each year.

'Our message is that first aid is simple to learn – just apply online for a free pocket guide so you can be the difference between a life lost and a life saved.'

To see the film visit the Helpless section of the website. You can also get the guide online.