5 Fears

Andy Shillito describes how his life was saved by the prompt action of Pride of Reading winner Steve Blethyn (That’s me) after a freak cycling accident.

What stopped people from helping?

A shocking fact occurred to me after I helped Andy out. A huge amount of people either do not want to help, don’t know how to help, or know how to help but will not step up, because of fear. Fear being the biggest factor in someone not helping out if a person needs CPR or, as in Andy’s situation, really heavy bleeding or ‘catastrophic haemorrhaging’ as we medical types like to call it.

I watched in horror as people saw him bleeding, and walked away. Others actually ran away and some were standing by watching him but did nothing. Nobody even phoned 999 for the emergency services.

Andy tells the story better than me so watch the film above, then I’ll tell you why people did nothing… FEAR!

Fear of what exactly? Why were so many people doing nothing to help someone who clearly needed help and fast? There are five fears that come into play here, and I’ll do my best to try and put everyone straight.


“If I get something wrong or make it worse, I could end up in court” Well maybe you could, but it won’t go very far. I know of no successful claims against someone who has done first aid. That’s the key here, first aid. Never go above your skill level, and if you have been on a Beyond First Aid course, that level may be basic, it may be advanced, but it’s always good first aid. Just because you saw Charlie Fairhead do something on Casualty does not mean you can ‘have a go’. Stick to what you know and are qualified to do. Also, get their consent, ask them if it is OK for you to help, introduce yourself. Don’t go flying in like a wild beast, they may look at that as assault, then you could end up in court, but not because of first aid. Basically, you cannot hurt someone that is already in danger of dying by doing something to save their life.

Unsure of your skill

If you find yourself doing CPR then I’m afraid the person under you is technically already clinically dead. Therefore anything you do is going to be better than nothing. So what if you can’t remember how many chest compressions to give? Anything is better than nothing. What you must remember is this. If you’ve been on one of my courses, when I taught you to do 30 compressions to 2 breaths, that is what the books recommend. Nobody will care if you loose count, or can’t remember how many chest compressions to do, something is better than nothing. You are buying time until the emergency services arrive, so just keep doing what you’re doing.

What if I hurt them?

As I have already said, if you are doing CPR then the patient is already dead, there is only one way to go and that is up. You might break a rib, but that can be fixed. If you are doing abdominal thrusts on a choking victim, you may cause bruising, you may even damage internal organs, but what is the alternative?

I might catch something

People will say, you might get AIDS, or you could catch hepatitis or TB, and you know what? They’d be right. There is a very slim chance that you might catch something. That is why we use face shields, that is why we use gloves. Put a barrier between you and them if you are doing mouth to mouth, if you’re still worried just do compressions, remember, something is better than nothing, but do look after yourself. I have a saying that is easy to remember… If it’s warm, wet, and not yours, don’t touch it.

It might be unsafe

This is the only time there is an excuse to say, “I’m not touching him”. If there is a danger of electrocution, drowning, fire etc. Stay where you are and don’t touch. Notice I didn’t say don’t do anything, you can still call for help. Nothing is stopping you from dialling 999 and getting the experts in. That in itself is doing something, that may be enough to save someone’s life. So do it.