My co-workers and I have noticed a disturbing trend the last several years. The public has stopped performing CPR whenever they've witnessed a cardiac arrest; even when it's their own family and friends. I remember when I was first in EMS I saw the public performing CPR quite often. This trend seems to be stopping. In fact, the public as a whole seems to have decided to limit participation in rendering any first aid to those in need; when they decide to give any first aid at all.
The most common excuses...I'm mean Reasons are:
1) I wasn't sure what to do
2) I thought it was best to wait for the professionals
3) I panicked
I suspect that most people (for various reasons) don't understand how important first aid and especially immediate CPR really is. Various studies over the last few years, many completed by the American Heart Association, have proven the immediate, strong chest compressions during a cardiac arrest are the best way to prolong a person's chances for resuscitation prior to EMS arrival. A rescuer doesn't even have to give mouth to mouth breaths, just really strong, really fast chest compressions. This effort provides a minimal circulation which can extend the dead person's chances for recovery.
Remember, that without oxygen brain death begins in 4-6 minutes! Unless EMS is in the immediate area during a cardiac arrest it take at least 5-10 minutes for paramedics to arrive on the scene. At that point everything we do is behind the clock, especially if there has been no bystander CPR prior to EMS arrival.
I would say over 90% of cardiac arrests that I've responded to in 15 years are not successfully resuscitated and most of those have no bystander CPR or first aid. The public can make a huge difference in the recovery of patients if they would only choose to participate.
I know that most people are afraid of getting involved, they are afraid of being sued. The Good Samaritan Law is in most (if not all states) and says that if an untrained bystander renders aid in good faith with good intentions; they can NOT be sued for their actions if the end result is negative.
So often I seen results that have been bad directly because no one helped their neighbor. But these same inactive people LOVE to watch. They love to stand nearby and be Looky-Lous and ask nosey questions and pretend that their involved without having to take any risks.
Next time you have a chance to help your neighbor and aren't sure what you should do, ask yourself...what would you like your neighbor to do for you if your positions were reversed?