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Poll Reveals Half of Americans Unprepared for Lifesaving Actions in Emergencies

by Richard A Reagan

A recent poll conducted by the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center has revealed a concerning gap in the emergency preparedness of Americans. 

According to the survey, only about half of the population feels equipped to handle life-threatening situations, such as cardiac arrests or severe bleeding incidents.

The poll, which involved 1,005 participants across the United States, found that just 51% of Americans know how to perform hands-only CPR—a crucial skill that can double or even triple a cardiac arrest victim’s chance of survival. 

Furthermore, only 49% felt confident in their ability to help in cases of serious bleeding, and 56% believed they could assist someone who was choking.

Dr. Nicholas Kman, an emergency medicine physician at the Ohio State Wexner Medical Center and clinical professor of emergency medicine, stressed the importance of public knowledge in basic life-saving techniques.

“For every minute that passes, the chance of survival drops, and if they do survive, there’s less chance of a good neurologic outcome,” Kman explained. He highlighted that 70% to 80% of cardiac arrests occur at home, often making immediate family members the first responders.

Dr. Nicholas Kman explained that organizations like the American Red Cross, the American Heart Association, and Stop The Bleed often provide training in lifesaving techniques either for free or at a minimal cost. 

Kman advises everyone to seek training, available through various community resources like hospitals, schools, libraries, and religious institutions. He stresses the importance of regular practice, recommending that individuals refresh their CPR skills every six weeks to maintain proficiency.

Dr. Kenneth Perry, an emergency department physician in South Carolina, also commented on the results, expressing surprise at the high level of unpreparedness. He pointed out that even medical professionals can find unanticipated emergencies stressful and challenging. 

Perry advocates for widespread training in the use of automated external defibrillators (AEDs), devices that can be critical in saving lives during cardiac events and are commonly found in public spaces.

The survey acknowledges some limitations, such as the variability in regional preparedness, which can reflect on local survival rates from cardiac events. 

However, the overarching message from healthcare professionals remains clear: more widespread training and awareness can save lives.

As Dr. Kman succinctly puts it, “We’re responsible for each other.” 

By learning and practicing essential lifesaving skills, Americans can better prepare themselves to respond effectively in emergencies, potentially saving the lives of strangers and loved ones alike.

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