Choosing a defibrillator can be confusing. To help you with this process there are three things you need to consider:
- Reliability: Will the defibrillator be ready when I need to use it?
- Ease of Use: How easy will it be to use in an emergency situation?
- Price: How much will my budget allow me to spend?
Our AED Buyer's Guide has been specifically written with YOU in mind and will help you understand all you need to know to make an informed decision. Alternatively, just pick up the phone and one of our team will help you with everything you need to know.
Our Facts and Figures page highlights the risk of SCA, showing the importance of having defibrillators available in public buildings, schools, workplaces, leisure centres and other community areas across the UK.
Below we've shared our knowledge on some of the most common questions we get asked. Can't find what you are looking for? Call one of our friendly and knowledgeable team on 0161 776 7422.
- What is an AED?
- What is Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA)?
- Are Sudden Cardiac Arrest and a Heart Attack the same thing?
- Why are defibrillators important?
- Who can use an AED?
- Will an AED always resuscitate someone in cardiac arrest?
- Do I still need to call 999 / 112 for an ambulance?
- Can I hurt someone with an AED?
An AED (Automated External Defibrillator) is a small, lightweight device that analyses a person's heart rhythm and recognises irregular heart rhythms such as ventricular fibrillation (VF) or ventricular tachycardia (VT), present when someone suffers a Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA). AEDs are designed to be used by anyone who arrives first on the scene of a medical emergency. AEDs are often provided in public places and can be safely used by untrained members of the public whilst waiting for an ambulance, the unit will talk you through. When an SCA has been recognised, the two adhesive pads (electrodes) must be attached to the patient's bare chest. This allows the device to monitor the heart's electrical activity. An AED will only shock the patient if it is needed.
In the UK it is estimated that around 60,000 people die from Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) every year. SCA is a condition caused by an electrical malfunction in the heart which stops blood from pumping around the body. When this happens, electrical chaos begins in the heart resulting in an uncontrolled quivering of the heart chambers (known as fibrillation). This will cause the victim to become unresponsive and without effective treatment - CPR and defibrillation - they will die.
No. The term heart attack is often mistakenly used. A heart attack is caused by a blockage in the coronary arteries brought on by disease or lifestyle. The casualty often feels pain and remains conscious. Heart attack if not treated, can lead to SCA due to the disruption of the heart’s natural rhythm.
The only effective treatment for a person who has had a Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) is the combined administration of CPR and the use of a defibrillator. When in SCA the heart has an irregular rhythm called ventricular fibrillation (VF) or ventricular tachycardia (VT) and cannot pump blood around the body. A defibrillator delivers an electrical shock to stop the irregular rhythm and allow the heart's natural pacemaker to restart the natural rhythm. For every minute that passes without defibrillation survival chance decreases by 10% so immediate treatment is paramount..
Automated External Defibrillators (AED) are designed to be easy to use for both trained and untrained responders. Defibrillators are classed as medical devices but you do not have to be a medical professional or have received training to use one. Voice prompts and visual cues guide the responder through each step of the process to make it as simple as possible. These will differ per model.
No. The AED will only treat a casualty experiencing the heart rhythms VF or VT. CPR will help to maintain a shockable rhythm if one is present. Without early CPR, an AED will be less successful when the victim has been in SCA for more than a few minutes. For every minute that goes by without defibrillation, the chance of survival decreases by 10%. CPR keeps oxygen flowing around the body to the vital organs but only an electrical shock from an AED will correct VF and VT. Under current guidelines, CPR should be performed to a ratio of 30 chest compressions to 2 rescue breaths. This cycle should be repeated until either an AED or medical attention arrives. The major reason so few people survive SCA is that defibrillation is not provided quickly enough. For defibrillation to be successful, it needs to be carried out within a few minutes of the onset of ventricular fibrillation which can be extended if a bystander has provided prompt and effective CPR.
Yes. Although CPR and defibrillation is the definitive treatment for Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA), a casualty will need medical attention as well as oxygen and cardiac drugs. The chain of survival is key to successful resuscitation. This is made up of the following four stages: Early Access (Call 999), Early CPR (begin resuscitation), Early Defibrillation (use of an AED) and Early Advanced Life Support (arrival of medical attention). Target ambulance response times in the UK are currently set at 11 minutes, so it is essential they are called as soon as you notice the casualty is unconscious and not breathing.
No. Medically speaking, a casulaty of Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) is dead and the use of CPR and an AED is their only chance of survival. All AEDs have built-in safeguards to prevent them from delivering a shock to someone who is not in VF or VT. An AED can be used on infants and children as well as adults. For children, paediatric electrode pads are recommended as they will reduce the amount of electrical energy delivered by the shock. If they are not available, it is advised to use adult electrode pads as it may be their only chance of survival. AEDs are not recommended to be used on babies under one year of age. The Resuscitation Council state that the likelihood of causing harm by performing CPR or using an AED is extremely low.