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Supporting First Aid Awareness Week, 11-15 April

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To mark First Aid Awareness Week St John Ambulance, along with other leading first aid societies, is promoting the value of learning first aid

To coincide with the awareness campaign, the new edition of the first aid manual has been launched. Written by the first aid societies and published by DK, it features updated guidance on how to resuscitate someone, following recent changes in guidance from the Resuscitation Council UK. The public is being urged to buy the manual so they can have life saving information close at hand.

Worrying statistics

A survey conducted by DK for First Aid Awareness Week found there was a severe lack of knowledge and confidence about performing CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation). Only one in ten people were willing to do it if they found a child on the street lying unresponsive and not breathing.

In October 2010, the Resuscitation Council UK issued guidance that advised untrained bystanders they could perform chest compressions only on cardiac arrest victims.

Fifty-six percent of those surveyed stated they would be more willing to perform CPR if they didn't have to give mouth-to-mouth and could perform chest compressions only.

The updated manual now advises those that haven't been first aid trained, or are unwilling to perform mouth-to-mouth, that they are now only required to perform chest compressions to resuscitate a casualty who is unresponsive and not breathing.

The manual still advises those that are first aid trained to perform both chest compressions and two rescue breaths, as this gives the casualty the best possible chance of survival. 

Defibrillator advice

The survey results also indicated there is a worrying lack of knowledge concerning the use of an AED (Automatic External Defibrillator) , a device that can shock a heart back into a positive rhythm, following cardiac arrest.

Over half of the respondents believe a defibrillator should be used when someone is having a heart attack, while fewer knew that it should in fact be used on someone who is unresponsive and not breathing. No longer do you have to be trained to use one; untrained members of the public are now allowed to use a defibrillator and the manual clearly advises on this.

A demonstration of how to use an AED can be found at the BBC website.

Saving a life 

As this year's First Aid Awareness Week is concentrating mainly on CPR and the new guidance, we want people to understand that anyone, first aid trained or untrained, can help someone in an emergency and that doing something is better than not doing anything at all.

Clive James, Training Development Manager said:

'These findings reveal a nationwide lack of knowledge and confidence towards CPR which we aim to address during First Aid Awareness Week. The survey has highlighted a need to raise awareness of important guideline changes such as the fact that anyone can now use a defibrillator. We want to encourage all members of the public to try CPR in an emergency situation, as "having a go" is better than doing nothing and could help save a life.'