AEDs: Why these devices should not be feared


It may be coming up to Halloween, but I promise there won’t be anything scary in this blog! A lot of people do, however, seem to have irrational fears about defibrillators and would hesitate to use one in a cardiac arrest emergency.

Bystander response is vital when someone falls victim to a sudden cardiac arrest, as their chance of survival decreases by 10% for every minute that passes. According to a YouGov survey, 7 out of 10 people would not feel confident using a defibrillator, which means that many cardiac arrest casualties do not get the help they need.

Here are three reasons why you should not be scared of these life-saving devices:

1. You can’t hurt someone from using an AED. 62% of people in the UK think that using a defibrillator can cause further harm to a victim of cardiac arrest. The truth is, that these devices are intelligent pieces of equipment and provide a thorough analysis before allowing the patient to be shocked.

Once you have placed defibrillator pads onto the patient’s chest, it will analyse their heart rhythm. An AED will only provide a shock if it detects a shockable rhythm: an arrhythmia. A shock will not be advised if the casualty’s heart is still beating, meaning that no harm is caused.

2. There is a big misconception that you can be sued if you use a defibrillator or even perform basic first aid on a casualty.

The government passed a law in 2015 called the ‘Social Action, Responsibility and Heroism (SARAH),’ meaning that people who step in and administer first aid in an emergency are protected from being sued. In actual fact, no-one has ever been sued in the UK for performing CPR on a cardiac arrest victim.

3. Some people feel concerned that, if they complete defibrillator training, they may take on more responsibility. A common myth with defibrillators is that you must complete medical training to be able to use one, but this is not true. Therefore, even if you have completed training, it does not necessarily have to be you that steps in during a cardiac arrest emergency.

Awareness for AEDs

We believe that more awareness needs to be raised for defibrillators, as many people remain unaware that training is not mandatory to use one of these devices. Hopefully, with campaigns like Restart A Heart day, along with First Aid being included in the school curriculum, attitudes towards defibrillators and bystander response in an emergency will change for the better.

It is natural to be scared of a medical device that you are not familiar with. With the information in this blog, we are hoping that people feel less intimidated by defibrillators and would be confident to use one to save a life.

Get in Touch!

Have a question about defibrillators or want to share your experience of using one? Tweet us @defibshop_ie.

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