Some 87 per cent of people in the South East would be reluctant to perform CPR on cardiac arrest victims, according to latest statistics from the British Heart Foundation.
The study also shows those who have been trained in CPR are three times more likely to perform it.
Simon Gillespie, British Heart Foundation CEO, said: “CPR may be the difference between life and death for hundreds of people every year in the South East who suffer a cardiac arrest.
“Every second counts, and it simply isn’t enough to hope that someone who knows CPR is present.
“We need everyone in the South East to learn this life-saving skill to give them the confidence to step in and give CPR when someone collapses after a cardiac arrest.
“That’s why we are urging secondary schools across the UK to apply for our free training kits and help create a ‘Nation of Lifesavers’.”
The British Heart Foundation released its findings as a warning the lack of public knowledge of CPR could be costing lives.
According to its statistics, only 44 per cent of people would feel confident giving CPR to a stranger.
By contrast, 76 per cent of people would offer a stranger a seat on the bus, and 84 per cent would give directions to a stranger, the British Heart Foundation’s survey showed.
The percentage of people able to identify the two signs of a cardiac arrest- someone is not breathing or not breathing normally, has collapsed or is unresponsive - was 21 per cent in the South East.
The main reasons for reluctance to step in were fear of causing more harm than good (49 per cent) and lacking the skills and knowledge to perform CPR (38 per cent).
The charity warned the benefits of performing CPR far outweigh the risks, saying survival rates are almost zero if people collapse and get no support until paramedics arrive.
According to the British Heart Foundation, there are more than 30,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests every year in the UK.
A spokesperson for the charity said: “Devastatingly, less than one in 10 people survive. Every minute without CPR or defibrillation can reduce a person’s chance of surviving a cardiac arrest by around ten per cent.”
The British Heart Foundation’s report says if survival rates matched those reported in Norway, where CPR is taught more widely, as many as 5,000 lives could be saved per year.
New research from the University of Warwick finds those who have been trained in CPR are three times more likely to perform it.
The figures were released today on Restart a Heart Day on October 16, an annual day to increase awareness of the importance of CPR.
Together with the Resuscitation Council, St John Ambulance, British Red Cross, the NHS ambulance service and Fire & Rescue services, the British Heart Foundation worked to train more than 150,000 young people across the UK in CPR.
According to the British Heart Foundation, the event was the largest ever CPR training event of its kind.
To help the British Heart Foundation create a ‘Nation of Lifesavers’, or find out how you can teach CPR in your school, workplace or community group visit bhf.org.uk/cpr.