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Quickly responding to a medical emergency makes the difference between life and death. This is especially true in a situation where an incident is a witnessed one and common events include cardiac arrest and choking.

It isn’t expected from a lay person to save a person’s life, but one can offer basic first aid assistance in order to try and help the affected individual and possibly offer them a favourable outcome if they are choking, drowning or in cardiac arrest.

Basic first aid knowledge is also important in aiding patients who may suffer from insect bites and stings, burns, open wounds and fractures. Level 3 first aid trained individuals can even assist in helping with childbirth. First aid skills are also important to help one to manage the initial stages of a stroke or a heart attack.

6 basic first aid facts that may encourage one to take part in a first aid course

1. The average time it takes an ambulance to arrive to the scene of a medical emergency can be around 8 minutes and it can take longer in more rural areas. A blocked airway can result in someone’s death within 4 minutes as brain cells die without oxygen at that time interval. Simply knowing how to open and maintain an airway in this situation gives the patient a fighting chance.

2. Statistics from St. John’s Ambulance show that in the U.K. alone around 140 000 people die each and every year in situations where basic first aid could have been beneficial. These statistics include just less than 900 people who choked, 2500 people who had a blocked airway and died and 29 000 people from cardiac arrest.

3. Many people don’t know how to perform proper CPR even though the basic principles of the procedure have been around for more than 400 years. Nearly 60% of U.K residents don’t feel confident enough to attempt to save a life and of those, 24% say they would rather wait for emergency medical personnel or someone else who has the proper skills to attend to the patient. Proper, high quality CPR can not only improve the patient’s prognosis but may end up saving their lives.

4. Close to 90% of teenagers have been exposed to some or other medical emergency. 80% of them felt that they would feel more secure and much safer if they had basic first aid knowledge which they could use in a given situation. This group of individuals would be excellent candidates for first aid training. This is not only because they're young, energetic and willing to learn but also because they're exposed to the most low impact injuries (skateboard and bicycle injuries, etc.)

5. More than 80% of parents with small children who were surveyed said that they wouldn’t know what to do if their children were to stop breathing or started to choke. Drowning incidents occur often and knowing how to perform CPR on a small child can very possibly save their lives.

6. Level 1 and 2 first aid courses as well as BLS (basic life support) workshops are offered by institutions such as St. John’s Ambulance and the Red Cross as well as by trained nurses and doctors around large towns and cities. Community centres in smaller areas may organize such workshops in conjunction with the local hospitals as well. One can contact the mentioned institutions or inquire at your local hospital for any further information.

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