Using a Public Access AED

Public Access Defibrillator’s are a familiar sight now, but many adults are still unsure of how to use them. They are designed to be safe and effective for anyone to use, even without training. But the thought can still be intimidating, so this blog will explain a little more about their use.

If you witness a cardiac arrest, call 999 and begin CPR. The call handler will guide you through this and tell you if there is a defibrillator nearby.

What is an AED?

An Automated External Defibrillator (AED) sometimes referred to as a Defib or a Public Access Defibrillator (PAD) is a portable, safe, user-friendly device designed to analyse a person’s heart rhythm and deliver an electric shock if necessary. Its primary goal is to restore a normal heartbeat in the case of a sudden cardiac arrest, a life-threatening condition where the heart’s electrical activity becomes chaotic. An AED would not harm a person, and only gives a shock if it is needed, so they are safe to use.

Why are AEDs so Important?

AEDs are vital for several reasons, especially in a cardiac emergency:

  1. Immediate Intervention: In a cardiac arrest situation, every second counts. AEDs can be easily accessed in public spaces, workplaces, and community areas, enabling immediate intervention before professional medical help arrives.
  2. User-Friendly: Don’t be intimidated by an AED; they are designed for ease of use by both trained responders and untrained individuals. The device provides clear audio and visual prompts, guiding you through each step.
  3. Improved Survival Rates: Early defibrillation significantly increases the chances of survival for someone experiencing a sudden cardiac arrest. Following a cardiac arrest, a person’s chance of survival goes down by 10% with every minute that passes without CPR and AED use. By using an AED promptly, you become a vital link in the chain of survival.
How to Use an AED: Step-by-Step Guide

AEDs are designed to be user-friendly, and training is not necessary. However, it helps to familiarise yourself with their operation to enhance your confidence, should you ever need to use one:

  1. Turn on the AED: By pressing the button and following the voice prompts it will give to guide you.
  2. Expose the Chest: Ensure the person’s chest is dry and bare. If necessary, remove any clothing or medical patches.
  3. Attach the Electrode Pads: The AED will come with adhesive electrode pads. Follow the diagram on the pads to place them correctly on the person’s chest as indicated.
  4. Analyse the Rhythm: Once the pads are in place stop CPR, the AED will analyse the person’s heart rhythm. Stand clear while the AED evaluates.
  5. Follow Voice Prompts: If the AED advises a shock is needed, ensure no one is touching the person and press the shock button as instructed.
  6. Resume CPR: After the shock, the AED will prompt you to continue CPR. Keep this up until the casualty shows signs of life, or the AED tells you to stop so it can analyse the heart rhythm again.
  7. Wait for Medical Help: Continue following the AED’s instructions until professional medical help arrives.
Where is your nearest defib?

There is a national defibrillator network called The Circuit which provides the NHS ambulance service with information on defibrillators across the UK. For this reason, it is important to register your defib with The Circuit if you are a guardian. In conjunction with The Circuit, there is a defib map which shows up-to-date locations of all AEDs registered with The Circuit. Simple click on the following link and enter your location: Defib finder

If you’re still unsure about using a public access AED, get in touch today for hands on training. But remember, even without training public access defibrillators are safe and easy to use, and could be the difference between life and death in a cardiac emergency.

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