Bystander First Aid Saves Lives

By: Cascade Training | Posted on: Sep 26, 2016

A couple of weeks ago I came across a story in the Washington Top News involving an 87-year-old man who suffered cardiac arrest and collapsed at the Folger Theater in Washington, D.C. Two bystanders came to his aid, one a college student and the other a nurse practitioner, and worked together at the scene to perform CPR. The man survived the incident thanks to their help and was able to thank them in person a few months later.

This was not an isolated incident. Events like this, where someone prolongs a victim's life before paramedics arrive, happen somewhat often. Another prime example headlined the news in July, when a baseball player saved his teammate's life with CPR after he was hit by an errant ball. These examples alone prove the value of immediate action in an emergency; individuals taking action saves lives, all resulting from a class that equips them with the necessary skills.

As medical professionals we already know the importance of CPR education for all, but it is our responsibility to spread the word about its tangible value. 

Bystander CPR and First Aid

A Cascade team member teaches a compression technique during a sidewalk CPR event. 


Bystander Response Can Determine Life or Death

In healthcare, bystanders include anyone who witnesses a circumstance where actions are necessary to preserve life. In the event of an emergency situation, they are the first line of defense and can be a large factor in a victim’s survival. When these witnesses step in and provide chest compressions, they buy paramedics valuable time and increase the flow of oxygen to the recipient's brain.

You’ve probably seen the benefits of prompt care to those experiencing cardiac arrest outside of the hospital. But some who don't work in healthcare may need a bit more convincing. It’s our duty to share the benefits of CPR and immediate response for everyone to understand how vital caregiving is. If you need any proof to back you up, share some of these facts in your next conversation about CPR:

  • 350,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests occur each year
    • 70% of these occur within homes
  • 90% of people who suffer out-of-hospital cardiac arrests die
  • CPR performed within the minutes following a cardiac arrest can double or triple a victim’s chance of survival
  • Only 46% of people get immediate help needed before paramedics arrive

(Source: American Heart Association)

This information alone should be enough motivation to get others interested in taking a training course. Consider organizing a larger instruction session; a church group, business, and sports team would all benefit from a group CPR lesson.


Don’t Wait for Someone Else

You’ve most likely heard of the "bystander effect", a social phenomenon where those present do not act in an emergency because of an inclination to believe someone else will. This could easily occur in a life or death situation, and potentially result in loss of life through inaction. It is second nature for a health professional to jump into action whenever an opportunity presents itself, but someone with minimal training may hold back hoping an experienced professional is in the crowd.

In emergency situations, any CPR is better than no CPR. A study by clinical researchers at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center showed that the average person does not perform CPR correctly, often pushing too slow and soft (Source: UC Health News). Senior paramedics were quick to note that “poorly administered CPR is better than taking no action at all.” Better education and frequent curriculum reminders are essential to saving more lives. In simple terms, the more people who have proper healthcare training, the safer we all are.


As the word spreads, campaigns across the nation encouraging bystander CPR are gaining traction to ensure more potential life savers are among us. The PulsePoint Bystander CPR app alerts properly trained individuals of nearby victims and is rapidly gaining adoption by local communities. 34 states require CPR training before high school graduation and California is slated to become the 35th.

If you have an up-to-date CPR certification and are confident in your abilities, the best way to help this cause is to be an advocate for anyone and everyone to get training. For those who need a refresher or would like to point untrained friends and family in the right direction, Cascade Training has locations in Washington, Oregon, California, or Colorado. Click the button below to find a class near you! 

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