Defibrillator FAQ's

Q. What is a Defibrillator?
A. A Defibrillator is a device that uses an electric current to re-start a fibrillating heart. When a heart is in fibrillation, a lack or disturbance of the electrical pulse means it ceases to work properly and therefore cannot circulate oxygen around the body. A defibrillators job is to ‘restart’ the heart by giving a burst of electric energy to the heart, re-establishing the electrical pulses and allowing the heart to beat again.

Q. What is an AED?
A. AED stands for Automated External Defibrillator, it cleverly analyses the patient’s heart rhythm before deciding whether to administer a calculated shock to re-start the heart. AED’s are often found in public places such as schools, offices, shopping centres and sports clubs and are designed for use by anyone so that whoever may be nearby can deliver lifesaving care as they are so easy and straightforward to use. The beauty of an AED is that they are designed for use by anyone, not just medical professionals.

Q. What is a PAD?
A. Public Access Defibrillators, PAD, are defibrillators that are located in public areas, for public use and are often found in areas that are hard to reach by emergency services. Having a defibrillator in a remote area can help save precious seconds when delivering emergency care, in turn saving more lives every year.

Q. How do you use an AED?
A. AED’s can guide anyone through the process of delivering life saving care. Designed with clear written and verbal instructions, AED’s can walk anyone step-by-step through every process when someone has suffered a sudden cardiac arrest covering everything from CPR to the defibrillation. Lots of defibrillators have clever features that monitor background noise and give prompts when someone is delivering correct care so that they know they are doing well. Inside AEDs you will find step by step instructions which show how to set the equipment up and with AEDs being automatic, they will also administer the shock for you.

Q. What is a Semi-Automatic AED?
A. A Semi-Semi-Automatic AED works in the same was as an automatic external defibrillator (AED), however, they give you the control to administer a when a shock is delivered. Scanning the heart to determine if a shock is needed, they will give a prompt you to administer one which allows medical professionals to deliver a shock based on their judgement. They can still be used by a person with no medical training and work in the same way as an automatic defibrillator regarding all other aspects.

Q. How do you find Defibrillator locations?
A. There are a number of ways to find out if there is a defibrillator located near you in your area, giving peace of mind should an emergency ever occur. There are a variety of websites devoted to finding defibrillator locations however, in the event of an emergency this isn’t always quickest way to locate one. Our advice is to look for the nearest visible defibrillator to you be it where you live, work or visit often - they can be seen easily with their bright colours and the universal defibrillator symbol. If there isn’t one nearby, it is always a good idea to check out local commercial building such as shopping centres and to ask a member of staff where they may have one located.

Q. How does an AED work?
A. An AED works by scanning the hearts rhythm to determine whether a shock is needed and if so will administer one. Once a shock is delivered, the aim is for the heart to actually stop so that it can then start beating again at it’s own, natural pace. AED’s work thanks to an advanced computer system inside which is specially developed to be easy to use and as efficient as possible. AEDs automatically administer a shock taking the pressure off someone delivering emergency care, as they cleverly detect if a shock needs administering, they simply give a warning sign and then shock the patient.

Q. How much does a Defibrillator cost?
A. Defibrillators vary in price. Here they start at just under £1000 and can reach £3000+.

Q. Can I get funding for a PAD?
A. Yes. It is possible to get funding for PADs. If you are looking to have one fitted in your area, visit The British Heart Foundation for more information on fund raising and how to apply.

Q. What is the cheapest defibrillator I can buy?
A. The cheapest defibrillator on Risk Assessment Products is the Phillips Heartstart HS1 semi automatic AED with slim carry case. It is currently £889.00 (as of January 2020) and features a semi-automatic system that is easy to use and does not require any training. It has an impressive 8 year warranty and gives clear audio and visual instructions during use. As one of the most user friendly defibrillators on the market, it is a great option to have placed in work and sports environments as anyone who may be nearby can quickly and effectively deliver life saving care thanks to the easy steps and simple operation that it offers.

Q. Do I need special Defibrillator training to use an AED?
A. No. AEDs are specifically designed to be used by anyone such as medical professionals and laypersons alike. They feature guidance systems and full step by step instructions with many AEDs offering visual and verbal assistance such as prompting you when you are delivering effective care and lighting images up on the AED when the next step is ready to be performed. AEDs also calculate their own electro-static shock and determine when a shock needs to be delivered, taking the pressure away from the person who is helping.

Q. What is the difference between a Monophasic Defibrillator and a Biphasic Defibrillator?
A. Monophasic and Biphasic defibrillators are both effective when it comes to re-starting a heart and delivering emergency medical care. A monophasic defibrillator delivers current from one vector, whilst a biphasic defibrillator delivers the current from two directions, hence their names. Most defibrillators are Biphasic as they deliver equal wavelengths on both sides but, both are extremely effective.

Q. What are the dangers of a defibrillator?
A. There are very little dangers involved when using a defibrillator as they only deliver a shock when one is needed. Working to stop the hearts irregular rhythm and return it to it’s normal pace means that they save lives and the chances of harm being caused is extremely low.

Q. Can Defibrillators be used on children?
A. Yes. Defibrillators can be used on children from 1-8 years old. If there are smaller pads included then use these. It is however recommended that you do not use a defibrillator on children younger than 1 year old.

Q. Can Defibrillators be used on pregnant women?
A. Yes, defibrillators can be used on pregnant women without causing harm to the child. In fact, fibrillation of the heart can be extremely dangerous for unborn children so it is important to act quickly.

Q. Can you use a defibrillator on a conscious person?
A. A defibrillator should be used when CPR is performed however, it will not deliver a shock unless it needs to. If a person does not appear to be breathing for example but, their heart is still beating, a defibrillator will never administer a shock.

Q. Can Defibrillators be used in wet weather?
A. Defibrillators can be used outside in wet and adverse weather conditions with many of them having an additional external layer to protect against bad weather. It is however, important to follow additional, precautionary steps to ensure you are as safe as possible such as drying the chest area and making sure that you are not touching the subject’s body in any way.

Q. Is it better to wait for a medical professional to operate the AED?
A. When a person is suffering from a sudden cardiac arrest (SCA), the most important factor is that emergency care is given as soon as possible. Waiting for medical professionals to arrive can waste essential time and could ultimately cost a life. Every minute that passes reduces the survival rate drastically when a patient is suffering from a SCA so you should never waste time. Ensure you should always call an ambulance in the event of an emergency in the first instance and always act quickly when someone falls ill due to a SCA - there is never any time to waste. AEDs are designed for use by anyone and can be used safely and effectively by untrained members of the public until the emergency services arrive.

Q. What is an IP rating?
A. The IP rating of a defibrillator cabinet/safe is an indicator of how much protection from damage, dust and water the structure can provide. The rating will appear with numbers after it, the higher the number; the better protection it provides. e.g. IP66.

Q. Can I reuse defibrillator pads?
A. No, in order to maintain hygiene, defibrillator pads should not be reused and should be thrown away after use.

Q. How long do AED batteries last?
A. AED batteries have a very impressive life span and can last on standby for an impressive average of seven years. AEDs automatically run self tests and notify you if anything needs replacing - the battery life reduces dependant on the usage of the AED.

Q. Am I legally required to have a Defibrillator fitted to my premises?
A. Having a defibrillator fitted in your premises is not a legal requirement however, it is is recommended. With an estimated 80% of people suffering from a sudden cardiac arrest in public places and out of hospital every year, many of these occur in the workplace. Having one installed in your work environment could increase the survival rate of someone suffering a cardiac arrest by a huge 60%.

Q. How much does an AED cost to run?
A. AEDs are very cost effective and do not cost a lot to run. For example, if you keep an AED in a good cabinet and safe location it can cost as little as £3 to run per year (judging on the DefibSafe2). With defibrillators costing so little to run and being so effective in the event of an emergency they are a great piece of medical equipment to have to rely on should an emergency occur.

Q. Who can use an AED?
A. Anyone. Designed to be used by trained medical professionals and laypeople alike, when an emergency occurs, AED’s need to be used straight away without waiting for professional help which is why they are designed with the user in mind. With clear instructions and usually a step by step visual and audio guide, anyone can be guided through the emergency care.

Q. Why is a defibrillator important?
A. Defibrillators are so important as they are a huge life saving medical tool that can make the difference between life and death. When defibrillators are administered on a victim, they assess the heart to determine if a shock needs to be delivered or not. Offering an easy to follow guide with instructions throughout the process, defibrillators are very user friendly meaning they can be used by anyone in the event of any emergency.

It is important to remember that if a victim collapses, you must always call 999 first and then start delivering care in order for the emergency services to arrive as soon as possible. A combination of CPR and defibrillation however, can save precious seconds whilst waiting for an ambulance to arrive.

Q. What are the chances of survival when using a defibrillator?
A. Chances of survival drastically increase when using a defibrillator. With many sudden cardiac arrests (SCA’s) occurring out of hospitals, in public environments such as at work, the shops, at sports grounds or at home, defibrillators are an essential medical tool that can make the difference between life and death.

If a defibrillator is administered within the first minute of collapse, survival rate can be as high as 90%. With every minute that passes without defibrillation however, survival rates can reduce by 7 to 10% and if delayed by more than five minutes, the survival rate can be lower than 5%.

All the information displayed above is widely available across the internet. For detailed information and advice we recommend you visit the British Heart Foundation or Rususcitation Council (UK) for the latest advice in CPR and Defibrillation.

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Having a defibrillator in a remote area can help save precious seconds when delivering emergency care, saving more lives every year.