Could you save a life?

Could you save a life?

Up to 59 per cent of deaths from injury might have been prevented with first aid

According to new research commissioned by the British Red Cross nearly 60 per cent of deaths from injury may have been prevented if first aid was given before the emergency medical services arrived.

The research from the University of Manchester showed that first aid was only attempted in around half of all cases despite someone being at the scene of the accident before the arrival of emergency services 96 per cent of the time.

There is a window of opportunity between dialling 999 and the arrival of the ambulance where simple first aid could save someone’s life.  That’s why the British Red Cross has launched their #DontStopAt999 campaign to raise awareness of how first aid could reduce the number of people who die from injury before reaching hospital.

Knowledge that could save a life

People over 50 can be more susceptible to a range of circulatory conditions which can cause faints and in some more serious cases lead to collapse and unresponsiveness. Knowing how to help in these situations will help you feel more confident should you find someone who has collapsed.

How to help someone who is unresponsive and breathing

  1. Check breathing by tilting their head backwards and looking and feeling for breaths
  2. Turn them onto their side and tilt their head back
  3. Call 999

Why does it help? If someone is unresponsive and breathing, turning them on their side and tilting their head back helps to keep their airway open so that they can continue to breathe.

How to help someone who is unresponsive and not breathing

  1. Check breathing by tilting their head backwards and looking and feeling for breaths
  2. Call 999
  3. Give chest compressions: push firmly downwards in the middle of the chest and then release
  4. Push at a regular rate until help arrives.

Why does it help? Chest compressions keep blood pumping around their body and helps keep the vital organs, including the brain alive.

Another key skill the British Red Cross wants people to learn is how to help someone who is bleeding heavily from a wound. As people age their skin can become thinner and this can lead to wounds which bleed more heavily.

How to help someone who is bleeding heavily:

  1. Put pressure on the wound with whatever is possible to stop or slow down the flow of blood
  2. Call 999
  3. Keep pressure on the wound until help arrives.

Why does it help? You are acting as a ‘plug’ to stop the blood escaping. The pressure you provide will help the blood clot and stop the bleeding.

The chain of survival

Talking about the research findings, Joe Mulligan, British Red Cross Head of First Aid Education said:

“The good news is that most people are calling 999. But after calling 999 we want people to then do something in those crucial minutes before the ambulance arrives, every person needs to recognise that in an emergency, you are part of the ‘chain of survival.”

“We know that people often worry about making a situation worse by doing something wrong. This can mean injured people don’t always get the care they need. Learning first aid will give people the knowledge and the confidence to help in a first aid emergency.”

“First aid doesn’t have to be complicated and there’s no need to go out and buy an expensive first aid kit. Many household items can be used in an emergency. For example, a towel or t-shirt pressed firmly onto a wound that is bleeding heavily will help stop or slow down the flow of blood while you wait for an ambulance to arrive.”

Choose your way to learn

Whether you prefer to learn as part of a group, from the comfort of your home, or on the go, The British Red Cross can help you increase your first aid skills and knowledge.

  • Book a first aid course
  • Learn first aid online
  • Download the British Red Cross first aid app

How to volunteer

Anyone can volunteer. It doesn’t matter what your skills, experience or background are, or how much time you have to give. By joining our friendly team of volunteers you can do something positive for your community.

To browse our volunteering roles to find an opportunity that suits you, visit our website at or telephone us on:  0344 871 11 11

For general enquiries telephone 0845 314 2562 – calls cost 5p per minute, plus your phone company’s access charge.