accessibility & help

British Red Cross launches Witness App

13 September 2013

For further information contact:
Penny Sims 020 7877 7044 /
Nichola Jones 020 7877 7618 /
On call mobile: 0771 0391703


A shocking dose of reality is being injected into first aid learning as a hard-hitting Facebook app depicting a knife attack is launched by the Red Cross.

The ‘Witness’ app uses the information from viewers’ Facebook accounts to help personalise the ordeal as it unfolds on a night bus.

The viewer will see a short film via the social networking site, in which a young man is stabbed on public transport. The viewer becomes a passenger, a witness to the incident, and to the reticence of the other people on the bus to come forward to help.

Paul Donnelly, head of campaigns at the British Red Cross, said:

“The film highlights how the ‘bystander effect’ can inhibit people, but we also show how easy it is to step forward and do something basic that could save someone’s life. Details from people’s Facebook profiles make the story more immediate and we hope they will make people stop and think what they would do in this situation.”

The app will be launched on 11 September and uses the film to show basic first aid advice on dealing with a bleeding wound. The app is part of an on-going campaign by the British Red Cross to make first aid relevant to young people and communicate directly with them using social media.

Donnelly continued:

“What makes this app different to others is that it takes the technology a step further. Instead of using select personal information in static shots or animations, viewers will see those elements in live moving footage, which makes it feel as if you are really in the film. This could happen to you – you could be there. So that begs the question – what would you do?”

By layering the video within the app and using triggered corner pin tracking data, select elements of the Facebook user’s profile appear within the film. 

Donnelly continued:

“All of us think that situations like this happen to other people. Using subtle additions from Facebook, such as the destination of the bus being your hometown, or receiving messages in the film from your friends, can break through viewers’ apathy and make the experience more immediate.”

The Witness app is available via or

The advice forms part of a wider campaign called Life.LiveIt, aimed at young people aged 11-18. Earlier this year the charity also sent a DVD to schools to help tackle accidents that can result from drinking, and they have also developed a series of videos with YouTube stars covering issues including self-harm and choking.

The British Red Cross have also launched their Pupil, Citizen, Lifesaver campaign to urge the government to put first aid and humanitarian education on the new curriculum. For details go to


For more information, pictures, footage and interviews, please contact

Penny Sims (, 0207 877 7044)


Notes to editors
The video and first aid advice will available here:
The video is also available via

For overall information about first aid for young people, go to or

For information on Young Minds, go to

For more information on the British Red Cross please visit: or follow us on Twitter:

The British Red Cross helps people in crisis, whoever and wherever they are. We are part of a global voluntary network, responding to conflicts, natural disasters and individual emergencies.
We enable vulnerable people in the UK and abroad to prepare for and withstand emergencies in their own communities. And when the crisis is over, we help them to recover and move on with their lives. 

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