Odds a bystander can save you in an emergency? It’s a coin flip

Around half of Americans feel prepared to help someone experiencing a medical emergency

Tens of millions of Americans are rushed to the emergency room after accidents each year, and more than 356,000 people have an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest. Medical emergencies can happen anywhere and for several reasons, but, according to a recent survey, only about half of U.S. bystanders are prepared to help.

“Before emergency responders arrive, it’s up to us as the public to initiate care,” Dr. Nicholas Kman, emergency medicine physician at Ohio State Wexner Medical Center and clinical professor of emergency medicine at Ohio State University College of Medicine, said in a news release.

“For every minute that passes, the chance of survival drops, and if they do survive, there’s less chance of a good neurologic outcome.”

Ohio State recently completed a survey of 1,005 people, revealing that 51% of Americans feel capable of performing hands-only CPR in an emergency. Around 49% are prepared to step in to help with people suffering from serious bleeding, and 56% can help stop someone from choking.

According to the American Heart Association, a bystander administering CPR can double — or even triple — the survival rate of someone experiencing cardiac arrest. If someone choking is not given aid, Kman explained, they will eventually go into cardiac arrest. And when it comes to serious bleeding, aid can save someone just minutes from death.

“Initiating hemorrhage control is something that you have to do very quickly,” Kman said. “We know from different studies that a patient with major bleeding can die in two to five minutes depending on the location of the bleed.”

Those interested in learning more about how to perform CPR can do so through the American Heart Association. CPR certification classes can be found through the American Red Cross, which also offers a paid course on first aid for severe bleeding. Basic information on how to stop severe bleeding can be found through the Mayo Clinic, which also provides tips on choking first aid. Those interested in taking a more generalized first aid class can do so through the National CPR Foundation.

Numerous other organizations provide information, classes and certifications on first aid.

“We’re responsible for each other,” Kman said. “When you’re trained in these lifesaving skills, you’ll know how to recognize the signs that someone needs help and buy time until the responders can get there.”