Basic first aid is vital - would you know what to do?

Would you know what to do if someone suffered a stroke next to you while you were walking down the street? Or at the desk next to you at work? Or while you were sitting next to them as they were driving a car?

Would you, like the lady who found me clinging to the bottom of a lamppost with my one working hand, know to ring 999 straight away and call for a paramedic and/or an ambulance? Or would you, like the colleagues of one survivor I know who had a stroke while in a meeting room at work, drive him home and let his terrified wife deal with it?

Have you heard of the FAST campaign, launched by the Stroke Association? Do you know what the acronym FAST stands for? (It's facial drooping, arm weakness, speech difficulties and time - speed is of the essence when treating stroke). Would you feel confident carrying out the FAST tests on someone who you thought had suffered a stroke?

Here are some numbers for you, courtesy of the Stroke Association: Stroke occurs approximately 152,000 times a year in the UK - that's one every three minutes 27 seconds. One in eight strokes are fatal within the first 30 days and one in four are fatal within a year. Stroke is the fourth-largest cause of death in the UK and by the age of 75, one in five women and one in six men will have suffered a stroke.

Given those statistics, you would hope that more of the general public would be able to do the right thing if someone next to them suffered a stroke, even if doing the right thing was calling an ambulance ASAP.

Yet surprisingly few people have heard of the FAST campaign or could confidently carry out the basic tests it entails while they waited for a paramedic or ambulance. We need more people trained in basic first aid in this country, which is why I'm teaming up with Christine Walford, of the Little Health Care Company, to promote basic first aid skills.

Christine is running an open day, entitled Sharing Knowledge to Save Lives, at her training centre in Suite 7, Colman House, 15-19 Station Road, Knowle, Solihull, B93 0HL, from 4.30pm-7.30pm on Thursday August 18. Angela Cloke of Meningitis UK will be speaking at 6pm (Go on, can you spot the symptoms of meningitis?) and I'll be doing a presentation at 6.30pm. Tickets are free and you can register at

Christine and I would love to see you there. After all, you want the answer to my opening question to be 'yes', don't you?