• Tim

Common First Aid Fatality Rates

Updated: Apr 26, 2021

Have you ever wondered which first aid problems you're most likely to encounter, and which are most likely to be fatal? I have, so I thought I'd do some quick and dirty research to get an idea of the answers...

The risk associated with a particular condition will be specific to each learner due to the environment in which they operate. However, when teaching first aid, I always try to give people a feel for the likelihood and severity of the particular condition that we’re focussing on. One of the ways to do that is to look at ‘ball park’ figures, as a useful starting point.

Lies, damn lies and statistics…

Before we get to the numbers though, a massive caveat. Statistics are notorious for being difficult - problems with collection, recording, interpretation and analysis can lead to massive variation. The numbers that I've collected below are not the result of months of academic research by me, but I have tried to use reputable sources. I've indicated the data source in the last column, without getting in to full on academic referencing! If you'd like to know more about any particular data, please get in touch.

Data Problems

The information is from a mixture of years, reporting periods and geographical areas, although most stats refer to the UK. I’ve indicated the year that the data is for in the final column. Where I haven't been able to find any data, I've calculated it from the other statistics and recorded it in brackets.

The Data

For each condition, I’ve recorded 3 statistics:


The number of incidents involving this condition. As an example, for asthma, this is the number of hospital admissions due to asthma, not the number of people with asthma. This helps to understand the relative likelihood of having to deal with this condition.


The number of people who died from the condition in a year.

Fatality Rate

The percentage of incidents ending in a fatality in a year. This helps to understand the likelihood of the incident becoming fatal.

The BIG Killers

So it would seem that there are some first aid problems that occur far more frequently than others. Heart attack, injury from a Road Traffic Collision (RTC), a traumatic head injury, stroke, injury at work that is RIDDOR reportable, asthma and cardiac arrest are in the 10's of thousands. However, of these...

...the conditions that are far more likely to lead to death are heart attack, cardiac arrest and stroke.

It's worth recognising that there is huge overlap in the heart attack and cardiac arrest statistics, as the vast majority of cardiac arrests are due to a heart attack.

Don't forget, these are just 'ball park' figures which hopefully give you a bit of context around some common first aid conditions, their prevalence and associated mortality.