The Red Cross on Wednesday urged European countries to make life-saving first aid training compulsory, warning that people were too reliant on emergency services.
"The fact is that 56 percent of European countries have decided to make first aid compulsory to get a driving licence is encouraging, but this is not enough, and we clearly see the need for legislation at the European level," said Dianne Issard, a first aid specialist at the French Red Cross.
The approach varies sharply between countries, according to a report on first aid by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.
Norway was highlighted as a model for general first aid skills. Ninety-five percent of the population there received training, often at school, and received refresher courses later, the report found.
Eighty percent received first aid training in Austria and Germany.
But just two percent had received training in the Netherlands, three percent in Serbia, five percent in Britain and six percent in Spain.
In southern and eastern Europe, people tend to believe they are alright because they have emergency services, Issard said.
Yet help can arrive too late and emergency resuscitation fills a vital gap while training gave people the confidence to act swiftly.
While the heart stops beating a few minutes after breathing stops, ambulance services in cities take ten minutes on average to reach a patient, according to the Red Cross.
"Being able to intervene, being efficient after an accident, on a member of your family, someone in your office or a passer-by can simply save a life," said international top model and French Red Cross goodwill ambassador Adriana Karembeu.
The Red Cross will mark World First Aid Day on Saturday.