Defibrillator FAQ's

Q. What is a Defibrillator?
A. A defibrillator is a medical tool that is used on people who are suffering a sudden cardiac arrest. It delivers an electric shock in order to restart a fibrillating heart. When a heart is in fibrillation, a lack or disturbance of the electrical pulse means it ceases to work properly and in turn cannot circulate oxygen around the body and most importantly, to the brain. 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. Without a defibrillator, the chances of survival are as low as 5% for someone suffering an out of hospital cardiac arrest.

Q. What is an AED?
A. AED stands for Automated External Defibrillator and is a medical device that cleverly analyses the patient’s heart rhythm before deciding whether to administer a calculated shock to re-start the heart. They are used on victims who suffer a sudden cardiac arrest and are often found in public areas such as schools, offices, shopping centres and sports clubs. AED’s have been cleverly designed so that they can be used by anyone so that whoever may be nearby can deliver lifesaving care as they are so easy and straightforward to use. Audio and visual alerts on many AED’s also highlight which steps you need to follow and alert you when a shock is about to be delivered meaning you are guided through every step of the care giving journey.

Q. What is a PAD?
A. Public Access Defibrillators, PAD, are defibrillators that are located in public areas. They are the same as a normal defibrillator but are designed for public use and are often found in areas that are hard to reach by emergency services such are remote towns and villages. Having a PAD installed in a remote area can save precious seconds when delivering emergency care to someone who has suffered a sudden cardiac arrest which in turn saves more lives every year.

Q. How do you use an AED?
A. AED’s have been designed for easy use meaning medical professionals and lay people alike can deliver life saving care. It doesn’t matter if you have never used an AED before as they have practicality and ease of use at the forefront of their conception. Clear written and verbal instructions guide any user through the process via a step-by-step process when someone has suffered a sudden cardiac arrest and they cover everything from CPR to fibrillation.
Many defibrillators have clever features that monitor background noise and give prompts so that if you are in a loud, public space you can always hear the prompts. They also notify when someone is delivering correct care so that you know you are following the right procedure. 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. Working exactly the same as an automatic external defibrillator (AED), a semi-automatic AED still delivers an electric shock to someone who has suffered a sudden cardiac arrest however, the shock is not automatic. Semi-automatic defibrillators notify you if a shock needs administering which then requires you to press the button. They can be used by anyone regardless of whether you have medical training or not and when compared to an AED are the same in all other aspects aside from the manual pressing of the button.

Q. How do you find Defibrillator locations?
A. Finding where your nearest defibrillator is located whether you want to find out where the closest one to your home or workplace is gives unprecedented peace of mind. Thankfully, there are a number of ways to find out if there is a defibrillator located near you in your area. A range of websites are devoted to finding defibrillator locations where you can view on a UK map your closest device. However, in the event of an emergency this isn’t always quickest way to locate one.
When out and about near your home, the local shops or work, it’s often best practice to keep a look out for close by defibrillators. Often when walking in public areas you will notice public access defibrillators installed as they are easily recognisable thanks to their bright colours and the universal defibrillator symbol. If there isn’t a defibrillator 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 automatically administer one. Once a shock is delivered, the aim is for the heart to start beating itself at it’s natural rhythm. An advanced computer systems means that AED’s have been specially developed for easy use making it as effective as possible. AEDs automatically administer a shock taking the pressure off someone delivering emergency care and will never deliver a shock if one is not needed. Cleverly scanning the heart, if a shock is needed they simply give a warning sign and 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. It is possible to receive funding for a public access defibrillator. If you want on installing in your local areas, it’s a good idea to 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 iPAD saver NF1200 semi automatic defibrillator which is currently £982.79 (as of November 2020). It has simple and easy operation, conducts daily self tests, has an IP rating of 54 meaning it can withstand dust and water and can also be used on children up to 25kg or below the age of 8 due to the paediatric pads that are available to purchase. An impressive five year warranty means you have peace of mind and the clear audio and visual instructions during use make it simple to use.

Q. Do I need special defibrillator training to use an AED?
A. The beauty of a defibrillator is that it can be used with absolutely no training. Specifically designed for use by anyone, defibrillators feature guidance systems and full step by step instructions making them straightforward to use. Many AEDs offer visual and verbal assistance and encourage you when you are delivering effective care. Lit up images within the AED when the next step is ready to be performed helps the user quickly learn how the process works. 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 helping a fibrillating heart to beat at it’s normal rhythm. A monophasic defibrillator delivers a 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. Defibrillators only deliver a shock when one is needed meaning there are very little dangers involved when using one. They work by shocking the heart so that it can return to it’s natural pace and so they save lives. The chances of harm being caused is extremely low.

Q. Can Defibrillators be used on children?
A. Defibrillators can be used on children from 1-8 years old. If there are smaller pads (known as paediatric pads) included then use these. It is recommended that you do not use a defibrillator on children younger than 12 months 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. As defibrillators are used on victims who are suffering a sudden cardiac arrest, one of the main signs of this is that they fall unconscious, if the patient is awake and responsive they are likely not suffering a cardiac arrest.

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 important to follow additional, precautionary steps to ensure you are as safe as possible. You should always dry the chest area, make sure they aren’t lying in any water such as a puddle and make sure that you are not touching the subject’s body.

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, the most important thing to remember is that care needs delivering immediately. Waiting for medical professionals to arrive means you can waste essential time which could ultimately cost a life. Every minute that passes reduces the survival rate drastically when a patient is suffering from a cardiac arrest so you should never wait. Ensure you should always call an ambulance in the event of an emergency in the first instance and always act quickly when someone suffers a cardiac arrest but remember - 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 means that something is dust tight and can protect against heavy seas and powerful jets of water.

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 each 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. Automatic defibrialltors automatically run self tests and notify you if anything needs replacing but of course, 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 premises could increase the survival rate of someone suffering a cardiac arrest by a huge 60%. If you are concerned about the costs associated with a defibrillator, you can request funding or conduct your own fundraising to raise the correct monies.

Q. How much does an AED cost to run?
A. AEDs are very cost effective and don’t cost a lot to run. If you keep an AED in a good cabinet and safe location for example, they can cost as little as £3 to run per year (judging on the DefibSafe2). With defibrillators being so cost effective and reliable life saving tools 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. This is why they are designed with any user in mind. Giving clear instructions and usually a step by step visual and audio guide, anyone can be guided through the process of using an AED.

Q. Why is a defibrillator important?
A. Defibrillators are so important as they are a life saving medical device that can determine the difference between life and death. When defibrillators are administered on a sudden cardiac arrest sufferer, 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 user friendly and 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, saves 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 30,000 sudden cardiac arrests occurring out of hospitals in the UK every year, defibrillators are an essential 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.