HealthDay News — Nearly half of American adults are not prepared for a medical emergency, according to a new poll from the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) and Morning Consult.

About 76% felt prepared to communicate with a 911 operator, but only 55% said they could provide hands-only cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Meanwhile, just 47% said they were prepared to apply a tourniquet to control severe bleeding, the same number who said they could move a victim to safety. Fewer than 29% said they felt prepared to use an automatic external defibrillator.

“A medical emergency can happen at any time and quick action by a bystander can be the difference between life or death,” said ACEP President Christopher Kang, MD. “Everyone can learn some easy steps to take so that they can help in an emergency.”

About 83% of adults who have had some kind of emergency training say they are willing to act during a medical crisis while waiting for professional emergency responders to arrive.

Nearly 90% of cardiac arrests that happen outside of a hospital are fatal, according to the US National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. CPR performed in the first few minutes of cardiac arrest can double or triple the likelihood that a person will survive, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

ACEP is partnering with the American Red Cross on an education program called Until Help Arrives, which will launch within the next month.

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