Five-minute feature: First aid - having the confidence to act
HEROES Beth Reed and Jay Marks came to the rescue of strangers when they were able to tap into basic first aid skills to save their lives. But although three-quarters of adults have done a first aid course, statistics show that only 40 per cent would stop to save a life.
SEEING a person in need of medical help can leave many people paralysed with fear.
Despite wanting to lend a hand, there can be many reasons why people fail to act.
When Jay Marks saw Reginald 'Percy' Bayliss collapse outside Nisa newsagents in Cirencester Road, Cheltenham, he used first aid he had been taught years earlier as a Legionnaire.
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He said first aid could have saved his brother Steven when he choked to death in 2009.
The 37-year-old said: "There needs to be a lot more awareness of CPR. It should be taught in schools."
Murray Bruton teaches first aid across the county for the British Red Cross. He said first aid courses were not set up to give people the confidence to help. Before, training which was given to professionals was offered to the public, but the detail in the courses "bamboozled" them.
"Someone might have done a course but then six months later have forgotten a lot of the detail," said Murray.
"When someone needed help, they then panicked because they could not remember it all. It meant the person who needed help didn't get it."
He said there were many reasons why people did not act. These included fears of doing wrong and making it worse, worries about litigation as a result of errors, and concerns about hygiene.
"For years people believed that to resuscitate people, for example, you had to compress and give the kiss of life, " said Murray.
"People are worried about hygiene and most people won't breathe into a stranger.
"It meant that the person got no help at all, when the most important part has always been the compression, not the breathing."
He said British Red Cross had piloted Everyday First Aid, which was designed to give people confidence to act.
"It's simple and relevant," he said. "If we're teaching it to a cricket club, for example, we will include strains and sprains, broken bones, if there's someone in the team with asthma or diabetes, we'll cover that too. And we do basics for everyone to learn as well."
Beth Reed showed how willing people were to help when it was a simple solution when she stepped up to help Paul Enstone keep warm when he fell in the snow, could not be moved, and had to wait two hours for an ambulance.
The idea of making first aid more accessible to all is also the focus of St John Ambulance's campaign Helpless. It believes 140,000 people die every year in situations where first aid could have helped save their lives.
Sue Killen, St John Ambulance chief executive, said: "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."