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Acts of first aid: a civic responsibility (Policy Brief 321 - February 2013)

Acts of first aid: a civic responsibility (Policy Brief 321 - February 2013)


The action of a witness in a medical emergency can be critical to the survival of the victim. How to raise citizens' awareness and lifesaving facilitate intervention?

  • Acts of first aid: a civic responsibility

In the event of a medical emergency, alerting the professional emergency services and actions taken by any witness present prior to their arrival can improve the victim's chances of survival and reduce the risk of them suffering major consequences. It is estimated, for example, that four in five people who survive a cardiac arrest will have received first aid administered by a witness present at the scene. As a result, the average citizen can represent the first, essential link in the 'chain of survival'.

Whereas 95% of Norwegians and 80% of Austrians have received some form of life-saving training, the vast majority of French citizens have not and would be helpless in the event of an accident. As yet, the training system in place is based on voluntary approaches whereby participants receive training as part of a hobby or because they are prompted or obliged to for the purposes of their professional or educational development. This means that such initiatives do not reach the entire population. The public strategy for promoting civic action in the event of an emergency must be made both more efficient and more effective. In order to achieve this, the physical environment must facilitate intervention on the part of the average citizen by providing a clearly identified emergency number and easy localisation of defibrillators. Training initiatives will then need to be stepped up (particularly where all secondary-school pupils are concerned). Last but not least, it is important to raise awareness among citizens of all ages by means of renewed messages focusing on both preventing risks and what to do in the event of an emergency.


  • Contrasting european strategies when it comes to saving lives
  • Establishing an environment that will encourage citizens to act in the event of an emergency
  • Training, awareness and prevention: the three keys to successful civic first aid
  • Authors: Mathilde Reynaudi and Sarah Sauneron, Department Social Issues

Keywords: first aid, first aid techniques, cardiac massage, defibrillator, training, emergency number.


Centre d’analyse stratégique