Only 7 per cent of people in the UK feel confident in carrying out first aid, according to a poll out today.
Of more than 2,000 people surveyed for the British Red Cross, just 7 per cent felt sure of first aid techniques and would willingly perform them.
Six out of 10 people said they would be willing to try some first aid but about half would be worried about doing something wrong.
Joe Mulligan, head of first aid at the British Red Cross, said: "The positive thing this research shows us is that there is great willingness from the public to step in, but a lack of confidence or fear of getting something wrong is holding people back.
"We need to make first aid less intimidating and more accessible.
"In the same way that everybody knows to call 999 in an emergency, we need to make sure everybody knows what to do until the ambulance arrives."
The British Red Cross is currently working to simplify first aid teaching.
Andrew New, training product development manager at St John Ambulance, said: "We hope these results will encourage more people to learn first aid.
"We know people worry about doing more harm than good but going on a first aid course will give you the training and confidence to know what to do in an emergency.
"It doesn't take long to learn - just three hours of your time could help you save a life."
Details of first aid courses can be found at www.redcross.org.uk/firstaid