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CPR and the importance of knowing what to do

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This month I am talking about some pretty scary facts and stats around CPR that have come out and my thoughts on them.

In the UK, only 5% of adults would feel confident, knowledgeable and willing to help someone who is bleeding heavily, unresponsive and breathing or is unresponsive and not breathing (British Red Cross).

According to the British Heart Foundation nearly half of all adults (43%) have never learnt CPR which means as many as 23 million adults in the UK haven’t yet learnt the skills to save a life.

A recent study published in the resuscitation journal (Dec 2023) looks at the reasons why people don’t perform CPR and the most common barriers were noted as 1) not wanting to start CPR and 2) not knowing how to do it.

In the UK we have over 30,000 out of hospital cardiac arrests (OHCA) each year. Most of these cardiac arrests happen at home (72%) or in the workplace (15%).

Half of all OHCA take place in front of a bystander but, the rate of survival is one of the lowest when compared to other countries around the world – I would suggest partly to do with the stats mentioned above.

So what can we do to improve this?

It is not going to change over night but I believe small steps are the way to improve our knowledge and confidence in performing CPR and general first aid.

  1. I believe it starts at grass roots – I am regularly going in to schools teaching basic first aid from the age of 3, going into their classes yearly. The content shared is age appropriate (three years olds learn about when and how to call 999 for example, Yr 5 & 6 learn CPR). The aim is to get them thinking about it regularly and building their confidence over time that is a normal thing to know and easy to do.
  2. Get yourself on a first aid course! I run monthly basic first aid courses in Sussex and SW London which you can book on to. These courses are not rocket science, they are all about getting you knowledgeable in basic first aid to feel more confident you could help someone in an emergency if needed.
  3. Find out here your local defibrillators are, check they are registered and in working order (a common story I am unfortunately hearing – but for another blog!) and you know how to get into them if you need one.
  4. Take this fab online 15 minute course called RevivR available from the British Heart Foundation. It is NOT as good as trying it on a manikin but it is free and a great start (or refresher if you have done a course and can’t remember what to do in an emergency).

CPR isn’t complicated! The important things to learn are:

  • How to tell if someone if not breathing
  • Call 999 to get medical help
  • Start CPR straight away
  • 30 compressions to 2 breaths continuously on repeat until the ambulance arrives
  • If you have a bystander available send them to get a local defib whilst you do CPR and then turn it on and follow the prompts when it arrives

Oh and one last point, women are 23% less likely to have CPR performed on them and a defib used. Women need CPR as much as men, put your hands in the same place on the person as you would a man. If you have a defib available to use, you will need to take all clothing off, this includes the bra – but do it, it really can save a life. #braoffdefibon  

If you would like to learn more about supporting someone with general life saving skills why don’t you come and join one of my regular bookable courses or book a private course for your team. You can email me at  

 If you would like more hints and tips on all things basic first aid, head over to my Instagram page: or

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