What’s the bystander effect?

An interesting point was raised today whilst delivering a First Aid at Work Course. So unexpected we thought it best to bring it to the attention of you all. The question.. ‘Wouldn’t someone else just help first?’.
What did he mean by this? We enquired further.. he believed that there would always be someone else available to help before he got the courage to.
This is what is known as the ‘Bystander Effect’. In simple terms, it is the reluctance of bystanders to get involved in an emergency, this includes such things as house fires, terrorist attacks and basic first aid incidents.
In fact, he isn’t alone in his thoughts.. the more people who are present in a first aid emergency for example, the less likely an individual is to take action and help. Research conducted by the British Red Cross has shown that ‘people are less likely to help others when they are in a hurry or in an urban environment, like a busy city’.* This is a real worry, if people are less likely to help when its busy , yet as we have mentioned, people are less likely to help when there are others around.. we have a life threatening problem.
The important thing to remember is that simply knowing about the Bystander Effect can dramatically increase the chance you will act when an incident occurs. In today’s current climate and the recent terror attacks in Manchester and London, the immediate first aid from bystanders has saved many lives! The priority for the emergency services is normally to neutralise the attacker/s or to make an area safe before sending in the medical services.
As such, by overcoming your barriers and stepping forward you’ll be able to help in the best way you can, whether this is giving CPR, applying an improvised tourniquet or just calling for an ambulance.
So what do you do now with this information? Well, take action! If you plan ahead and understand your limitations, you can take action and improve. A basic first aid class will give you the confidence to step forward in all manner of incidents. Take charge of your own life and possibly increase the chances of lives for the people around you!


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