Up to 140,000 people die each year in situations where first aid could have helped save their lives. This is as many as die from cancer, according to leading first aid charity St John Ambulance. To highlight this new startling comparison, the charity today unveils a hard-hitting campaign, Helpless (#Helpless), which seeks to encourage more people to learn basic first aid skills.
The film, which first aired during ITV1’s Downton Abbey last Sunday 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.
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 study also reveals that people are going to great lengths to improve their chances against cancer, with over two-fifths (43%) making changes to their diet, half (50%) not smoking and over one-third (36%) increasing the amount of exercise they do. However, when it comes to first aid, it’s a very different story with less than one in five (18%) knowing even the basic skills that could be the difference between a life lost and a life saved.
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.’
The survey also reveals that:
- If a loved one had cancer around three-quarters (71%) would attend hospital appointments, nearly two-fifths (38%) would fundraise and around half would donate blood (52%) or bone marrow (48%)
- When it comes to first aid, it is taken far less seriously with only 1 in 25 (4%) downloading a first aid app and 1 in 33 (3%) watching instructional videos online, both of which are readily available for free and could easily help them save a life
- 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. Indeed, over two-fifths (41%) admit that it would take something as severe as the death of a loved one to make them take steps to learn first aid.
Sue adds: ‘Our message is that first aid is simple to learn – just text HELP to 80039 for a free pocket guide so you can be the difference between a life lost and a life saved.
Support from Cancer Research UK. Martin Ledwick, Cancer Research UK’s head cancer information nurse, said: ‘Encouragingly, cancer survival rates have significantly improved over the past forty years. Research has led to better diagnosis and improved treatments, all helping to save lives. This campaign highlights that more people are surviving cancer than ever before but that accidents can happen at any time to anyone. We’re pleased to be supporting the campaign to encourage everyone to learn the first aid basics.’
Watch the film and get a free guide to saving lives. To see the film visit www.sja.org.uk/helpless. 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.