Only 31% of people in the UK who haven’t been professionally trained on a cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) course are likely to help somebody having a cardiac arrest, according to new research commissioned by Resuscitation Council (UK) and St John Ambulance for Restart a Heart Day today.

There are more than 30,000 cardiac arrests every year that happen outside of hospital, and there is a survival rate of less than one in 10. To help improve this, the British Heart Foundation is committed to training, and helping to train, as many people as possible in CPR.

The new research showed that 64% of people would give CPR to a stranger, compared to 83% who would help a family member. Only 60% of respondents said they are likely to give CPR in a crowded location, compared to 79% who would do it if they are the only ones around.

The British Heart Foundation has shared a video of someone experiencing a cardiac arrest, and subsequently being given CPR by a bystander and then treatment from emergency services that ultimately saved their life. 

Simon Gillespie, chief executive of the British Heart Foundation, said: “CPR is simple to learn and anybody can do it. It doesn’t take a lot of time or effort, and it could save somebody’s life. If you see somebody that is unconscious and they are not breathing, or not breathing properly, then it is vital that you call 999, start CPR and locate the nearest defibrillator.

“CPR can double the chances of someone surviving. In parts of Europe, where CPR is already widely taught, survival rates of one in four have been reported compared to one in ten in the UK. Starting next year, children in England and Scotland will be taught CPR, which will be a game changer, and will educate more people in this life saving skill.”

The initiative is led by Resuscitation Council (UK) in partnership with St John Ambulance, The British Heart Foundation, British Red Cross, and Yorkshire Ambulance Service and with participation from every UK Ambulance service.