A study by the University of Manchester found that 93% of people would call 999 if they stumbled across an accident or an injured person.
But first aid intervention was more infrequent – with around half of people saying they would not attempt any while waiting for emergency services to arrive.
Joe Mulligan from the British Red Cross, which commissioned the research, said: “The good news is that most people are calling 999.
But after calling 999 we want people to then do something in those crucial minutes before the ambulance arrives, every person needs to recognise that in an emergency, you are part of the ‘chain of survival’.
Sadly in the majority of deaths we looked at, the simplest intervention could have helped keep someone alive until they got to hospital.
For example something as simple as turning someone on their side and tilting their head back to keep their airway open – could be all it takes to make that difference between life and death in certain situations.”
The Royal College of Emergency Medicine has called for more opportunities for people to learn first aid, starting in school, but also through the driving test and public health initiatives.
It said: “Opening the airway by turning the unconscious person on their side and reducing blood loss by pushing hard on the site of the bleeding can buy precious minutes until help arrives.
These two simple actions are the very same that a trained doctor or paramedic would perform. Minutes really count – so these actions save lives.”