Defibrillators Everything You Need To Know

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Defibrillators: Everything you need to know….

What is a defibrillator?

Defibrillators (Defibs), also known as Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) and Public Access Defibrillators (PADs) are life-saving pieces of kit located all over the UK.

You will have walked past one, driven past one, seen them in use on the television and maybe even used one yourself, or even know someone whose life has been saved by one. They tend to be highly visible in public open spaces but are also located inside buildings and community spaces, and even the odd disused old red phone box.

The British Heart Foundation and a Professor Douglas Chamberlain have been campaigning for wide-spread supply public access defibrillators since the 1980s, and thankfully there are now 1000s of them all over the UK.

Defibs work by shocking the heart of someone who is in cardiac arrest. This high energy shock is called defibrillation, and it's an essential part in trying to save the life of someone in cardiac arrest. They can be used by anyone, and no training is needed, however, training can be given, and is encouraged. The combination of CPR and the use of a defib increases survival rates so CPR first aid training is also encouraged. Sadly, survival rates for out of hospital heart attacks are poor. There are more than 30,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests in the UK each year, with a survival rate of less than 1 in 10. This is why defibs are vital pieces of kit; they have improved survival of out of hospital cardiac arrests.

If you witness someone experiencing a suspected heart attack you can call 999 and the operator will tell you where your nearest defib is, thanks to the British Heart Foundation’s ‘The Circuit’. The Circuit is The National Defibrillator Network. The Circuit synchronises every 60 seconds with the live dispatch systems within each of the UK’s 14 ambulance services. This provides the emergency dispatcher with crucial data on the location of the nearest defibrillator so they can direct the passer-by and tell them how to use it. The BHF plans to complete the roll-out of The Circuit to all UK ambulance services by early 2022. Over time this world-leading initiative should help to significantly increase survival rates from out-of-hospital cardiac arrests through bystander defibrillation.”

How to save a life
• Look out for your nearest defib.
• Learn CPR. First Aid Course
• Fundraise for a defib for your community.
• Register your defib with The Circuit
• If you notice that a defib near you has been damaged/stolen/vandalised do report it.


Author: S Brown-Kenna
Published: 01 Feb 2022

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