Have you ever wondered what would happen if you had a serious medical emergency and collapsed on the street? Who would help you? Sadly, according to a new study that was carried out by the Smith Institute, only 10% of the Israeli population knows how to administer CPR effectively in an emergency situation. The study was undertaken at the behest of United Hatzalah ahead of World First Aid Day, which will be taking place around the globe on Saturday, September 9th, but will be observed in Israel on Sunday, September 10th. Rafi Smith and Olga Pni’el from the Smith Research Institute.

United Hatzalah EMTs pretend to be bystanders performing CPR during a training exercise
United Hatzalah EMTs pretend to be bystanders performing CPR during a training exercise

Another disturbing fact that came out of the study was that many Israelis believe that they know how to perform CPR effectively on a person who collapses, when in reality, the CPR  they would administer would not be effective, and possibly even have detrimental side effects. According to the study, some 30% believe that they know how to perform effective CPR, while another 70% admit that they do not know how to perform effective CPR or CPR at all. 64% of the people asked said that they studied how to perform CPR under one program or another, many of whom were last trained in first aid during their IDF service, while only 31% percent said that they never learned how to perform CPR. More than half of those who responded (58%) said that they wouldn’t attempt to do CPR on a person who collapsed in their vicinity and that they would instead try to find someone else who knew how to perform CPR.

When taking personal history into account, only 24% of the people asked who had come across a medical emergency that required CPR actually tried to perform CPR, whereas 29% responded and said they simply froze and were unable to do anything.

The study was aimed at discovering how well the general populace of Israel could respond to a medical emergency that they came across before emergency responders could arrive. It was conducted on the 22nd and 23rd of August by having some 700 Israelis fill out a questionnaire on the internet and represents a cross section of the general populace of the country above the age of 18 years old. The margin of error in the study is estimated at 3.7%/

President and Founder of United Hatzalah Eli Beer said, “The success of first aid very much depends on how fast treatment can begin. This means that it is of vital importance for family members and passersby to begin first aid and CPR even before emergency services can arrive. We at United Hatzalah place incredible importance upon empowering and educating the community with regards to beginning CPR and providing first aid treatment even before our volunteers can arrive. It is for this reason that over the past number of years we have dedicated a large part of our resources to the Family First project which teaches people from the general public how to properly administer basic CPR as well as other first aid procedures. In commemorating World First Aid Day, we call upon the public to sign up for the courses, which are offered all across the country in a flexible four-hour session, and to take it upon themselves to know how to respond to a medical emergency should it arise in your vicinity. The people you will save will likely be your own family members, friends, co-workers and others closest to you.”