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New poll shows many Canadians lack first aid training


A new survey commissioned by the Canadian Red Cross shows despite their willingness to assist in a medical emergency, a high number of Canadians have not taken first-aid training in the last three years.

Canadians appear relatively confident in their ability to recognize the signs of a medical emergency, but are significantly less confident in their abilities to help a person who is experiencing a medical emergency, according to the Canadian Red Cross poll.

Nine in 10 are “confident” they could recognize when someone is choking, according to the online survey of 2,015 Canadians, while 73 per cent quarters say they’re certain they could recognize when someone is experiencing a heart attack or cardiac emergency. A majority (65 per cent) are also confident they could recognize when someone is experiencing a heat emergency or anaphylactic shock (62 per cent). One-half (49 per cent) are positive they could recognize when someone has experienced a concussion.

When Canadians were asked how confident they are in their skills to be able to help someone experiencing these conditions, they were much less sure of themselves. While 67 per cent are confident they could help someone who is choking, they are significantly less sure (55 per cent) they could help someone who is experiencing a heat emergency, a heart attack or cardiac emergency (47 per cent), anaphylactic shock (40 per cent) or a concussion (38 per cent).

“Fewer than half (of Canadians) believe they have the skills to provide life-saving basic first aid," says Don Marentette, national manager of first aid programs with the Canadian Red Cross. "The Red Cross believes lapsed training and Canadians' low confidence in their ability to save a life are directly related, and pose a risk in emergencies."

While many people believe first aid is usually administered on strangers, the poll shows nearly 60 per cent of Canadians who have had to provide first aid did so to help a family member.

"The reality is, when you learn first aid you are more likely to save the life of a family member than anyone else," says Marentette.

There is a significant gap between Canadians' perception of the importance of taking a first aid course and actually taking one. Although nearly 98 per cent of Canadians say knowing how to perform first aid is important, 82 per cent have not taken a first aid course within the last three years.

The survey was conducted by Ipsos Reid’s Canadian online panel between July 3-8, 2012. Weighting was then conducted to balance demographics to ensure the sample's composition reflects that of the adult population according to census data and to provide results intended to approximate the sample universe.

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