Defibrillators are great to have in your local community. Should someone fall ill and suffer a sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) you must act in minutes as they are often fatal. Having an automatic external defibrillator (AED) in your local community can really make the difference between life and death. Familiarising yourself with where they are located allows you to identify them in an emergency, next time you are in your local community keep an eye out to see where your nearest one is kept.
Defibrillators can of course not only be used in local communities but, are often also installed in schools, sports centres, offices and shops. As SCA’s can occur at anytime and to anyone, it is important to have them available in as many public areas as possible in order to deliver effective emergency care should the worst happen.
Where should my defibrillator be stored?
In order to defibrillators to be their most effective, they of course need to be easily identified. Storing them where they can be seen by everyone will increase the chances of them being used on a victim. When storing a defibrillator it is important to consider the following:
- Will the defibrillator be easily accessible and visible?
- Is there CCTV near where the defibrillator will be stored?
- Will it be stored in an appropriate case?
- Are there any other defibrillators in the area?
If you are storing a defibrillator outside there are a number of factors to take into consideration. When stored outside, your defibrillator is of course open to the elements so it is important to choose a case that is durable and that can withstand severe wind and rain.
On-going costs of a defibrillator
There are of course ongoing costs that are involved with having a defibrillator in order to keep it functioning as it should and to ensure it is always ready for use. Ensuring your community has money aside to replace parts is an easy way to keep it fully functional. You may need cover the cost of the following:
- Pads if they have been used or are out of date
- Cost of electric for the cabinet
- A new battery
Defibrillators do also all come with a warranty so you are covered for usually between five and eight years depending on the manufacturer. This gives added peace of mind that should anything be wrong, you can easily get it resolved. To give an idea of how long it may be before parts may need replacing, pads for a defibrillator often have a shelf life of between two and five years and the batteries between four and seven years.
Do I need training to use a defibrillator?
Training is not essential to use a defibrillator as all are designed to be user friendly meaning a medical professional or lay person could use a defibrillator should they need to. With verbal and visual guides throughout the entire process, users are guided through how to use the defibrillator however, the resuscitation council UK strongly suggest training in order to get the most out of an AED. The more familiar you are with a defibrillator, the more comfortable you will feel in the event of an emergency to treat a victim. Learning how to place the defibrillator pads and how the AED delivers a shock are all steps that help increase the smoothness of using a defibrillator.
Who owns the defibrillator?
The ownership of the defibrillator lies with community with the responsibility lying with them to ensure that it is checked often enough to ensure it is in working order and that the defibrillator pads are in date. Community defibrillators should also ideally have more than one guardians responsible for it’s upkeep who are available to check on it once a week.
What checks must I take for the upkeep of my defibrillator?
There are a few steps to follow which are a great indicator to know that your AED is always ready to go. You should check the AED cabinet so that it is not damaged and that it opens easily and isn’t stiff. When checking the interior of the cabinet, you should ensure the internal light works and that there are not are signs of internal moisture that could damage the AED.
You should also check that the defibrillator has all of it’s indicators working, that there are two rescue pads, the pads are in date and the battery is charged.
AED’s can be expensive particularly when considering where they will be stored and their upkeep. Many communities have local charity days to raise money such as sponsorships and raffles however, you still may need to raise a little more money. To raise money quicker, you can apply for a grant from companies such as Aviva and The National Lottery who can help with money for a community defibrillator. Trusts such as Community Heartbeat have also been established to make defibrillators as common as fire extinguishers so initiatives such as this are really helpful contacts to get in touch with to help with aed funding.
Register your defibrillator
Registering your defibrillator is a great way to get it on UK wide maps so that anyone can see where it is located. It means that if someone in the area has suffered a SCA, they can identify where their nearest defibrillator is located and help someone in an emergency. Doing this can be carried out with your local emergency services and is free. The more defibrillators on country wide maps, the more chances that a life can be saved.
Key things to remember for a community defibrillator are as follows:
- Who will be responsible and are they are able to make weekly checks on the AED?
- Where will it be stored?
- Training is always favourable so that you are familiar with the defibrillator
- Ensure you can cover the costs of up keeping your AED
- Get the word out about your new defibrillator in your area so that as many people as possible are able to use it should they need to
Take a look at our defibrillator FAQ's for more information.