17/09/2012 03:14 BST | Updated 17/09/2012 14:11 BST

St John Ambulance Mounts Campaign To Encourage First Aid

Up to 140,000 people die each year where first aid could have helped save their lives.

As many people die from cancer, according to stark statistics published by first aid charity St John Ambulance.

But while people are going to great lengths to improve both their and their loved ones chances against cancer, a lot less are trying to get to grips with first aid.

The charity's research shows that many people think learning first aid is too time consuming.

Indeed, over 41% of the 4,000 people polled admit that it would take something as severe as the death of a loved one to make them take steps to learn first aid.

To help people realise its importance, the charity has started a new campaign: #Helpless.

helpless choking

Knowledge of first aid could save as many people as died from cancer last year

Their video, which aired last night, showed a cancer sufferer recently returned from hospital and reunited with his family at a garden party.

As he chokes on a piece of food, his loved-ones are forced to look on helplessly, ignorant of what to do to help.

Their message is clear: first aid needs to be taken seriously. They are encouraging people to get a free pocket-sized guide to first aid by texting HELP to 80039.

Sue Killen, St John Ambulance Chief Executive, said: "Cancer is a serious disease, which kills tens of thousands of people each year.

"When a loved one has cancer, although we do all we can to support them, over three-quarters of people are consumed by a feeling of helplessness.

"Learning life saving skills is so simple. That’s why it’s so concerning that fewer than 1 in 5 of us knows even basic first aid. This has got to change if we are to stop up to 140,000 lives from being needlessly lost each year."