Lack of first-aid skills kills as many as cancer, claims advert

Lack of first-aid skills kills as many as cancer, claims advert

St John Ambulance runs hard-hitting TV advert that shows cancer survivor dying after choking at a barbecue


St John Ambulance’s hard-hitting television advert shows a cancer survivor who dies after choking at a barbecue. St John Ambulance spokesman state that approximately 140,000 people every year die in situations where their lives could have been saved, if somebody had known basic First Aid. They argued that there are as many deaths as there are from cancer, according to a recent campaign.

Hard-hitting TV adverts shown on Sunday night during the screening of Downton Abbey and on Monday September 16th 2012, during ITV’s News at Ten are intended to bring home the stark comparison. St John Ambulance, which is behind the campaign to encourage people to learn the skills that may save a life, says there are far more preventable deaths than is realised.

The 60-second film features a man who is diagnosed and treated for cancer. He recovers, only to choke to death on a piece of meat at a barbecue, because none of his family knows what to do to help him. The treatment for a choking victim is pretty simple and straightforward if you know how, but very complicated if you do not. One of the main lessons taught in the One Day Emergency Person’s Appointed First Aid Course is about Choking and how to treat it. Learners get to practise skills such as backslaps and abdominal thrusts as well as learn about what types of food cause choking.

The chief executive of St John Ambulance Sue Killen, said: “Cancer is a serious disease, which kills tens of thousands of people each year. When a loved one has cancer, although we do all we can to support them, over three-quarters of people are consumed by a feeling of helplessness.

“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. That’s why it’s so concerning that less than one in five of us knows even basic first aid. This has got to change if we are to stop up to 140,000 lives from being needlessly lost each year.”

Sue Killen went on to say that: ‘the results of the campaign are very encouraging and show that our message is being taken seriously. The response has been overwhelmingly positive and we’re delighted that it’s had the desired effect of equipping more people with basic First Aid knowledge.

‘We’re sorry to those who feel our tactics are too harsh but we hope those people realise that this advert will save lives. It has been said to be shocking but then it’s shocking when someone dies who could have had a chance to live. Our work is vital if we’re to reduce the number of lives being needlessly lost each year.’

The charity says there is compelling evidence to take both the subjects of cancer and First Aid seriously. In a bid to avoid cancer, nearly half of 4,000 adults questioned for the ‘Helpless Campaign’ said they had made changes to their diet (43%), half did not smoke and 36% increased the amount of exercise they took. But only 18% surveyed knew basic life-saving skills. Over 14 million people have so far seen the advert, including around 117,000 YouTube viewers. Further coverage in the media about the campaign reached 34 million people.

Since the launch of the campaign, over 19,000 people have requested a free pocket guide, with 5,000 texting during the advert’s airing during X Factor on ITV1. An additional 3,300 people visited the charity’s website that hour – the most traffic ever recorded on at one time (breaking the record set the week before when the advert aired during Downton Abbey). In addition to requesting First Aid guides, visitors to the site downloaded the charity’s free first aid app, watched First Aid videos and played Rescue Run, its new first aid game.

National newspapers such as the Mail on Sunday, The People, Daily Star Sunday, Sunday Express, The Guardian, Daily Mail and the Daily Express supported the ‘Helpless Campaign’.

On Monday 17 September, the Helpless campaign featured nationally on ITV News, Sky News, BBC News and BBC 5 Live, BBC Breakfast and Daybreak and on regional TV shows. They featured interviews with spokespeople and demonstrations of vital life saving First Aid. Cancer survivor Anthony Burke, who needed first aid after choking on some steak, also shared his story. I feel that these campaigns should be re-hashed regularly to firstly, remind people of the importance of learning First Aid but also to educate the younger generation about First Aid. I hope that this Blog will encourage at least one person to learn First Aid as they may save a life in the future.

man performing the Heimlich maneuver on a woman

man performing the Heimlich maneuver on a woman