DS Medical Guide to using a Defibrillator
Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) is a leading cause of premature death, however, with immediate treatment lives can often be saved. An AED (automated external defibrillator) gives the heart an electric shock when it has stopped beating (also known as cardiac arrest) and can be used on adults and children over 12 months old.
AEDs are commonly found in public places such as airports, shopping centres, schools and offices. Although they are a standard piece of ambulance equipment, it is the early minutes before an ambulance arrives that are critical to help save a person’s life. It’s worth noting that no training is needed to use an AED as they are designed with an inexperienced user in mind. AEDs are portable devices which are often stored in brightly coloured, accessible cabinets for easy identification in a medical emergency.
Our guide to using an AED outlines all the essential pieces of information you need to know to use a defibrillator.
Call 999! Ensure you or someone around you calls 999/112 to request an ambulance.
Locate the nearest AED and start giving chest compressions (CPR) until one is available.
Turn on the AED and follow the series of visual and verbal prompts until the ambulance arrives and the crew advise you that they are ready to take over.
Take out the pads from the sealed pack and remove or cut all clothing which is covering the chest area, making sure any moisture (like sweat) is removed. The Elite Drying Towel is well suited for drying the chest area. It is also important to remove chest hair in the area that the defibrillator pads will be placed – most AEDs have CPR accessory kits with razors in for this. The Gallant Disposable Razor is ideal for quickly and safely removing chest hair.
Remove the backing from the pad before attaching them to the patient’s chest. Position the first pad on the upper right side of the patient’s chest, just below the collarbone – as shown in the diagram below.
Place the second pad on the patient’s left side, below the arm pit. The pads need to be positioned so that the long side runs parallel to the length of the body.
Replacement defib pads can be purchased if needed. For Zoll AED users, the CPR D-Padz
Once the pads are in position, the AED will start to monitor the patient’s heart rate and deliver a ‘shock’ if required.
Continue to follow the instructions given to you by the AED, which will usually include continuing to give chest compressions. You may also have to stop briefly to deliver further shocks. Remember, if you get tired you can get someone else to carry on providing chest compressions.
Workplaces need to consider whether an AED is needed onsite by conducting a thorough risk assessment as part of their Health & Safety report. We’ve written a handy guide to help you understand the latest BS8599-1 2019 first aid standards.
Some communities and organisations hold fundraising events to help raise money to purchase a community AED – these are often know as Public Access Defibrillators (PADs). The CU Medical iPad SP1 Automatic Defibrillator is a high quality, great value AED, which is easy to use, maintain and has an innovative design.