Shocking Statistics On Who Provides Help In A Medical Emergency

Would you put a blanket over someone, put pressure on a wound or simply offer a glass of water?

Would you put a blanket over someone, put pressure on a wound or simply offer a glass of water?

Only around 2.5% of people receive help from strangers in a public medical emergency, new research finds.

For African-Americans the news is worse: only 1.8% were helped by a stranger compared with 4.2% of Caucasians.

The figures relate to getting help from strangers before emergency medical personnel arrived.

Dr Erin York Cornwell, the study’s lead author, said:

“It’s very surprising and disappointing to find such low rates of people helping each other and that African-American patients and those in poorer counties are left to wait longer for help.”

The type of assistance passers-by can give includes putting a blanket over someone, putting pressure on a wound or simply offering a glass of water.

Dr Cornwell said:

“We find evidence that bystanders can provide help in a huge range of scenarios, but the rates of assistance are so incredibly low.”

The conclusions come from an analysis of almost 22,500 patients who suffered a medical emergency.

Certain neighbourhoods can make it more difficult for people to offer help, Dr Cornwell said:

“When you have a neighborhood environment where people don’t know each other, where people are wary of strangers on the street, and someone needs help right in that moment, people may be more likely to just look away or keep walking without lending a hand.”

The very fact that people do not tend to help each other in more disadvantaged neighbourhoods could be contributing to poorer health in these areas, Dr Cornwell said:

“Disparities in health across race are persistent and growing in many cases.

We don’t really have a good understanding of the reasons why we see such large disparities.

These day-to-day processes could be an important contributor.”

The study was published in the American Journal of Public Health (Cornwell & Currit, 2016).

Accident image from Shutterstock

Author: Jeremy Dean

Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology. He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book "Making Habits, Breaking Habits" (Da Capo, 2013) and several ebooks.

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