If you see someone collapse and stop breathing, do you know what to do. It can take several minutes for first responders to show up after you call 911, and those minutes can be critical in someone’s survival. Statistics show that the survival of someone who is not breathing collapse 7% for every minute of delay in care, which is why it is so important for bystanders to do CPR until rescue personnel can arrive. It’s important that a person in medical distress get care as soon as possible, which is why it’s vital that bystanders render the care they can until professionals arrive.

One of the ways to be ready to help in a crisis is to take a CPR class. CPR classes only require a few hours of training for you to become certified in CPR. Many non medical jobs, such as lifeguards and daycare providers, require people to become certified in CPR. Even if it is not required for a job, however, CPR training can still be valuable. CPR aids in maintaining blood flow to the brain and the heart, which can make a critical difference in both survival and function after a serious medical event such as a heart attack.

There are other ways to learn how to be of help as a bystander in an emergency. Automatic external defibrillator devices are showing up in more and more public places, such as schools, airports, arenas and government buildings. Learning the basics of using these devices can make you more useful if a medical situation arises. For someone having a heart attack, an AED can mean the difference between life and death. Even in cases where a heart attack sufferer survives, in 93% of cases where an AED device was used, those survivors regained complete neurological function. That compares with only 9% of those without an AED device.

Another way to make yourself more useful in an emergency is to have first aid training. Such a course will teach you how to care for various types of injuries in an emergency, such as cuts, burns and fractures.

It’s unlikely that you will ever be faced with caring for someone who is having a medical emergency, but it’s important to be prepared in case such an event does present itself.