In nine out of ten emergency situations, the life of a loved one is at stake. However, the rate of training of the French population is among the lowest in Europe, is moved by the French Red Cross in on the eve of “World First Aid Day”.

Today, only 40% of French people are trained in lifesaving gestures. “We believe that this figure should be doubled,” Philippe Da Costa, president of the Red Cross, told AFP.

This was also the objective of President Emmanuel Macron: 80% of the population trained at the end of his first five-year term.

Norway, Austria or Germany have already reached this ratio.

“When you question the French, 80% consider that they are not or badly prepared in the face of crises or disasters”, regrets Philippe Da Costa.

The desire to train is however there: two out of three French people want to know the gestures that save, he assures.

Like François Breheret, 38, who followed last weekend at the Red Cross in Boulogne-Billancourt (Hauts-de-Seine) an initiation to first aid for children and infants.

“What pushed me to come was the birth of my little boy, who is just over a year old today,” he says. “It’s reassuring to know that we know the gestures that save, if anything happens to him”.

Elena Shmygina, 45, who works part-time in childcare, considers this training “essential” for her job. But also for everyday life. “I ride a scooter and I have already witnessed an accident: that day, I felt totally helpless,” she recalls.

Three main modules are on the program: how to react in the event of suffocation, haemorrhage or loss of consciousness.

Using mannequins, the trainer shows the participants the procedure to follow in the event of an emergency: slaps on the back or pressure of the fingers on the sternum, pressure dressing to stop bleeding, lateral safety position to secure the victim and help her breathe…

The gestures are reproduced and repeated several times. “There, we are in vital danger, as soon as the victim breathes, I alert the emergency services!”, Launches the trainer.

“You can take training from the age of three,” says Florence June, communication manager for the Hauts-de-Seine Red Cross, stressing that schools are more and more interested.

“Many professions (early childhood, drivers, etc.) now also require training for their employees,” she adds.

“Clearly, more and more people are training, but France is starting from a very long way,” she continues.

In 2020, in order to promote first aid actions and raise public awareness, a law created the status of “rescuer citizen”, which legally protects people rescuing a victim of cardiac arrest.

Each year in France, about 40,000 people die of cardiac arrest.

“If nothing is done in the minutes that follow, the chances of survival are almost nil”, recalls the French federation of cardiology. And victims are eight times more likely to survive when a witness is able to perform CPR quickly.

“Survival after cardiac arrest is less than 10% in France, while it is higher (20-30%) in other countries of Northern Europe”, underlined in 2018 the National Academy of Medicine, recommending to train “the entire French population” in life-saving gestures.

For the president of the Red Cross, “behind the political discourse, there needs to be a stronger commitment from the State and local communities”.

The involvement of “ambassadors” also has a role to play in raising awareness of the subject, he believes.

On Saturday, the actress and model Adriana Karembeu, ambassador of the French Red Cross, will notably be present in Avignon to encourage the public to learn.