Ambulance service calls on Londoners to learn life-saving skills to have the confidence to save a stranger

London Ambulance Service is calling on people to step in to save a life as figures are released which show less than half of Londoners would help a stranger in cardiac arrest.

Figures released today, 16 October, for World Restart a Heart Day, by the Resuscitation Council (UK) and St John Ambulance show that just 49% of people in London would give cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) to a stranger.

The report cites possible reasons including ‘busyness bias’ and ‘stranger danger’ as barriers to bystanders intervening.

London Ambulance Service is calling on all Londoners to have the confidence to step in and be a life saver – and to get life support training so they can be confident to do so.

Chris Hartley-Sharpe, Head of First Responders at London Ambulance Service said:

“When a person goes into cardiac arrest, every second counts. It is vital to start chest compressions straight away and use a defibrillator where one is available.

“While our medics respond very quickly to cardiac arrest calls, the prompt intervention of passers-by can make all the difference.

“We know that some members of the public can be afraid to step in – sometimes for fear of ‘making the situation worse’. Our message to Londoners is that you can’t make the situation worse as a person in cardiac arrest is clinically dead – but you can give them a chance at survival.”

The Service is offering free training alongside St John Ambulance volunteers at a stall next to the Tower of London on Restart a Heart Day – where passers-by can learn the skills they might one day need if they see a person in cardiac arrest.

Despite common misconceptions, people don’t need medical training to perform CPR and to use a defibrillator. However, receiving basic first aid training often improves confidence – making people more likely to step in, so the Service is encouraging people to seek training:

“We’d encourage Londoners to receive emergency life support training so they can be confident to step in if a person goes into cardiac arrest and Restart a Heart Day is a great opportunity to do this”, Chris Hartley-Sharpe added.

About cardiac arrest and emergency life-saving training

Cardiac arrest happens when the heart stops pumping blood round the body.

Earlier this year, London Ambulance Service introduced a new initiative where people across the capital in workplaces and community organisations can be taught by the Service how to train other people how to do chest compressions and use a defibrillator –so as many people as possible have learnt how to save a life.

For more information on the Service’s ‘Teach the Beat: Restart a Heart’ training sessions please email [email protected]

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2326 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 17th and 20th September 2019. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 16+)