What is a Defibrillator?
A defibrillator is a life-saving machine that in some cases of cardiac arrest gives the heart an electric shock, this is called defibrillation and can save lives.
Why are they important?
Numerous studies have shown that if someone has a Cardiac Arrest in the Community with no defibrillator immediately available, there is only a 6% chance of them surviving; even if someone is performing great CPR on them.
Cardiac arrest is when the heart stops pumping blood around the body. The most common cause is an abnormal rhythm of the heart, known as ventricular fibrillation. This abnormal rhythm can occur when the heart muscle is damaged as a result of a heart attack or when insufficient oxygen reaches the heart.
When someone has a cardiac arrest, defibrillation needs to be prompt
If a defibrillator is used within the first 3 minutes of someone stopping breathing, their chances of survival jumps from 6% to 74% and for each minute’s delay there is a 10% reduction in survival rate.
Hundreds of people are alive today entirely due to the prompt and appropriate use of a defibrillator.
If a casualty becomes unconscious and is not breathing, start CPR – pushing hard and fast on the centre of the casualty’s chest. Try to get a defibrillator, send a bystander to fetch the nearest one.
Once you have the defibrillator, open it up and it will start talking to you. Dry the casualty’s chest and then place the pads onto it as illustrated on the pads. Ideally someone should continue with CPR whilst another person is putting the pads onto the casualty’s chest and concentrating on the defibrillator.
Ensure you know how to do to the best CPR – pushing down on the centre of the chest 5-6 cms, hard and fast. You are aiming for 100 – 120 chest compressions a minute
Keep going and do not stop until the paramedic is there and ready to take over or the casualty begins to regain consciousness.
Where do I find a Defibrillator?
Automatic External Defibrillators (AED) are now easily accessible at numerous locations; train and tube stations, shopping centres, dentists and GP Practices, sports grounds, leisure centres… and are available for the general public to use.
Do you know where your nearest one is? No, then there are a couple of applications that you can download and use to find your nearest one and one such application is GoodSam which is available on the appropriate app store.
Is a Defibrillator easy to use?
Yes they are, they are designed for anyone to be able to use. They provide you with a voice prompt of what to do
Aren’t Defibrillators in a locked cabinet?
Yes they are. Once you have established that the casualty is unconscious and not breathing you will dial 999 or 112 to activate the ambulance service and start CPR.
If you have an assistant then you can send them to fetch the nearest AED. The access code for the AED cabinet will be provided by the ambulance control centre.
What if I get it wrong when using the Defibrillator?
The machine analyses the casualty’s heart rhythm and will only allow a shock to be given if they are in a shockable rhythm. It is not possible to override this with an AED and if a shock is not advised you should continue to give CPR until the ambulance arrives.
The defibrillator will not allow you to shock someone if they don’t need it and it will prompt you throughout, including telling you to continue with CPR
Are you CPR and AED trained?
No – It goes without saying that they are indeed life saving but you also need to receive defibrillator training to ensure you are proficient with its use. This will not only further increase the chances of survival (from using the AED effectively) it will also make you more confident in its application and use.
Yes – then do something good and join the GoodSAM register. The East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS) was the first UK ambulance service outside of London to partner with GoodSAM (Smartphone Activated Medics); a web based alerting system and application that uses innovative technology to link a qualified lifesaver with a patient in cardiac arrest.
Rutland First Aid Training provides this information for guidance and it is not in any way a substitute for medical advice. Rutland First Aid Training is not responsible or liable for any diagnosis made, or actions taken based on this informationRead More