When it comes to purchasing a defibrillator, there are many models and manufacturers to consider, technical jargon and sales waffle to fight your way through and it can, in truth, be a head spinning process.
We want to make the whole process as easy as possible. From buying the right defibrillator to ensuring you feel confident when using it after getting expert AED and CPR training.
To help you with the shopping and buying process you need to narrow down your sales decision down to 3 things:
Reliability: Will the defibrillator be rescue ready at all times and ready when you need it?
Ease of Use: How easy will it be to use in an emergency situation?
Price: What is your budget and how much can you afford to spend on a defibrillator?
We have put together a Buyers Guide which should point you in the right direction as regards the right defibrillator to suit you, your budget and your organisation but we recognise that you will probably have a few questions at the back of your mind that need answering first.
Let’s hope we can help.
What is an AED?
Combined with CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation), an AED (Automated External Defibrillator) is the only form of treatment for someone who has suffered a sudden cardiac arrest. They are a small, lightweight device that analyses a patient’s heart rhythm and can recognise irregular heart rhythms like ventricular fibrillation (VF) or ventricular tachycardia (VT). They are primarily designed so that anyone can use them, no matter whether they have medical training or not.
What is Sudden Cardiac Arrest?
Sudden Cardiac Arrest is a heart condition which is caused by an electrical malfunction in the heart which can prevent blood from pumping around the body to the vital organs. When this happens, electrical chaos begins in the heart resulting in an uncontrolled quivering of the heart chambers (known as fibrillation). Eventually, the person will lose consciousness as the body begins to shut down and without effective medical treatment, the person will die.
Are Sudden Cardiac Arrest and a Heart Attack the same thing?
Even though a sudden cardiac arrest and a heart attack can be closely relatable conditions, it is a common misconception that they are the same thing. Most heart attacks are caused by coronary heart disease and blockages in the main arteries that feed the heart. Blockages are usually caused by a build up of fatty materials which form blood clots. If a heart attack is a ‘plumbing’ issue then a cardiac arrest is most definitely an electrical fault which occurs from within the heart and stops the heart from pumping blood around the body.
Why are defibrillators important?
Defibrillators are important as they are the form of treatment for someone who has suffered a sudden cardiac arrest, along with the combined application of CPR. When a person has suffered a sudden cardiac arrest, their heart is not pumping blood around the body causing organs to shut down. This is an electrical fault and means the heart is beating irregularly and this needs correcting. A defibrillator produces an electric current which passes through the heart in an attempt to restart the hearts natural beating rhythm.
Who can use an AED?
Automated External Defibrillators are designed to be simple, easy to use devices so that anyone can administer immediate life saving care to a cardiac arrest patient quickly and safely. After placing the electrode pads on the patient, the AED will analyse the heart rhythm will deliver a shock if required. Although anyone can physically use an AED to help someone, it is highly recommended to have defibrillator training so that you can become familiar with defibrillators and the rescue process.
Will an AED always resuscitate someone in cardiac arrest?
No. An AED will only treat a patient who is experiencing ventricular fibrillation (VF) or ventricular tachycardia (VT). If the casualty is suffering an alternate condition then the defibrillator will simply not work with the patient and no shock can be provided. In addition, for every passing minute after a person suffers a cardiac arrest and a defibrillator is not used, they lose approximately 10% of their survival chances. Effective CPR will keep blood pumping around the body but it is vital that a defibrillator is used within 5 minutes for the best chance of survival.
Do i still need to call 999/112 for an ambulance?
Yes absolutely. Even though CPR and defibrillation are the only definitive treatment for sudden cardiac arrest, the patient is going to need oxygen and cardiac drugs which can only be provided by a medical professional. The chain of survival is key to a patient to surviving a cardiac arrest and a successful resuscitation. The chain of survival is: Early Access (Call 999), Early CPR (begin resuscitation), Early Defibrillation (use of an AED) and Early Advanced Life Support (arrival of medical attention).
Can i hurt someone with an AED?
No. Medically speaking, a victim of cardiac arrest is dead and the use of immediate CPR and an AED is their only chance of survival and it is the first responder’s job to preserve life until emergency medical professionals arrive to help the person. If the person does not need shock therapy from a defibrillator, it will not administer the shock to the person by mistake as there is a safeguard in place with all makes and models of AEDs.