CARDIOPULMONARY resuscitation, commonly known as CPR, is a life-saving skill anyone can learn.

But heart experts say many people are put off administering life-saving skills in an emergency for fear of hurting the casualty or even getting sued.

The Bolton News campaign — Every School Leaver a Life Saver — is encouraging people to learn emergency skills and we believe it is important to debunk the myths about CPR and defibrillators.

The most common misconception about CPR is that an untrained rescuer can make a casualty’s condition worse by giving them chest compressions, also known as hands- only CPR. According to the British Heart Foundation (BHF), chest compressions should be carried out hard and fast for maximum effectiveness.

This occasionally means the person giving CPR could injure the casualty during the rescue, by bruising them or damaging a rib. But chest compressions of 100 to 120 times per minute at a depth of 5cm to 6cm could help save the life of a casualty — a broken rib or bruising is a small price to pay.

Community resuscitation development officer Steven Nicholls, from the North West Ambulance Service, said: “We want more members of the public to learn these life-saving skills and by delivering the training we can change people’s perceptions.

“Some people worry they might hurt someone or make their condition worse but when someone is having a cardiac arrest, CPR is the best thing you can do for them.”

Another misconception is that you can be sued by doing CPR and rescue breaths — but no one has ever been successfully sued in the UK for carrying out CPR.

Without bystanders intervening by calling 999 or carrying out CPR there is a very small chance of someone surviving a cardiac arrest, so any CPR is better than no CPR.

The BHF has tried to simplify the CPR message to hands- only compressions — without rescue breaths — to encourage resuscitation attempts by bystanders.

Some people have similar reservations about using a defibrillator for fear of giving someone an unnecessary electric shock.

Mr Nicholls explained: “The machine will not deliver a shock unless their heart is fibrillating. It gives very clear instructions about what to do and if a shock is needed. It will tell user when to use the shock button.”