MOST people would not perform CPR on someone who had gone in to cardiac arrest, findings revealed today.

Eighty-seven per cent of people in the south east would be reluctant to perform the potentially life-saving actions, according to the British Heart Foundation (BHF)/

The BHF warns that a lack of public knowledge of CPR could be costing lives as new research from the University of Warwick also finds that those who have been trained in CPR are three times more likely to perform it.

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). But experts warn that the benefits of performing CPR far outweigh the risks, as survival rates are almost zero if people collapse and get no support until paramedics arrive.

There are over 30,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests every year in the UK, and devastatingly less than 1 in 10 survive. But according to the BHF, if survival rates matched those reported in Norway, where CPR is taught more widely, as many as 5,000 lives could be saved.

Every minute without CPR or defibrillation can reduce a person’s chance of surviving a cardiac arrest by around ten per cent.

The BHF, Resuscitation Council (UK), St John Ambulance, British Red Cross and all the UK NHS ambulance services along with Fire & Rescue services are working together to train more than 150,000 young people across the UK in the largest ever CPR training event of its kind.

Simon Gillespie, chief executive of the British Heart Foundation, 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.”

South East Coast Ambulance Service investing in volunteers lead and the Trust’s Restart a Heart organiser, Emma Ray, said: “Our staff and volunteers, in the effort to create a ‘nation of lifesavers’ have joined together with our fire service colleagues and are pledging to train more than 15,000 young people in CPR during the week leading up to 16 October. This is in addition to the 8,000 who were trained last year. We urge people who don’t know already how to do CPR to attend one our open sessions taking place during this week details of which can be found on our website. Learning CPR is a skill that can stay with someone for life.”

To help the BHF create a Nation of Lifesavers, or find out how you can teach CPR in your school, workplace or community group visit