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What Are AED Defibrillators?

Cardiac arrest can happen to anyone at any time so it’s really important to have a working defibrillator on hand.

After a cardiac arrest, every minute without CPR and defibrillation reduces someone's chance of survival by 10 per cent. So using an AED defibrillator could mean the difference between life and death.

Keep reading for more information on what defibrillators are and how to use them, so you can best protect your workplace.


What exactly are AED Defibrillators?

AED stands for automated external defibrillators. They are portable, life-saving devices that can be used in the event of an emergency when a person is suffering from a suspected cardiac arrest.

A clever microprocessor inside the defibrillator interprets and analyses the victim's heart rhythm through adhesive electrodes and decides whether a shock is needed or not.

If the defibrillator decides it is required, an electric shock is administered to try and get the heart’s rhythm back to normal.


How do I use an AED Defibrillator?

In the event of a suspected cardiac arrest, the first protocol is to dial 999.

How to use a defibrillator

Then, peel the plastic off the sticky contact pads and stick onto the patient’s bare chest, as shown by the pictures on the defibrillator.

The defibrillator then analyses the patient’s heart rhythm. In order for the device to do this, you’ll need to stop administering CPR.

If it decides an electric shock is needed, you’ll need to press the shock button when instructed (or the defibrillator may do this automatically depending on the model). Ensure no one is touching the patient at this time. The defibrillator will then shock the patient.

When given the all clear by the defibrillator, you’ll need to continue to administer CPR.

Continue until either the patient displays obvious signs of life, emergency services arrive, or until the defibrillator instructs you to stop so it can reanalyse the patient’s heart rhythm.


Who Can Use AED Defibrillators?

AED Defibrillators are designed so that everyone is able to use them. They are very easy to operate; with everything you need supplied with the defibrillator.

Even if you have no first aid or medical training, you can still use defibrillators as they come with clear step-by-step spoken instructions that tell you exactly what you need to do.


What is the difference between an Automatic and a Semi-Automatic Defibrillator?

Automatic AED Defibrillator

There are many makes and models of automated external defibrillators, but they all fall into one of two categories: semi-automatic (SAED) or fully automatic (FAED).

Although there are some differences between the two (as outlined below), they are still very similar in the sense that they both provide a life-saving shock to someone experiencing a cardiac event.

Depending on the make and model of the AED, rescue instructions will be provided via voice and may include text prompts or light indicators. CPR instructions may also be provided.

Semi-automatic (SAED) Defibrillators

This type of device has a button that the operator must push if the defibrillator decides that a shock is required.

This is important as is ensures that no-one is touching the patient when the shock is administered, as this may bleed off current needed to re-establish an effective heartbeat.

Fully automatic (FAED) Defibrillators

These defibrillators are slightly on the more expensive side as they administer the shock automatically when needed, without any further human action. This may reduce pressure off the operator as they do not need to manually press the ‘shock’ button.

It will still give clear, concise, and loud instructions throughout the process of when the shock will be administered to ensure that again, no one is touching the patient.


Defibrillator types

Who can AED be used on?

Automated external defibrillators can be used on anyone over the age of 1 who is suffering from a cardiac arrest. A cardiac arrest is when someone’s heart has stopped beating normally and they are unresponsive and not breathing.

For children under the age of 8, special paediatric sticker pads should ideally be used.

An AED should not be used on a person who has a pacemaker.


How do I maintain an AED Defibrillator?

Aside from the initial cost of the defibrillator itself, there are a few other things that you need to keep in mind to ensure it’s working and ready for use at all times.

Batteries have a shelf life, and their expiry date should be consistently checked to make sure they are suitable for use. Typically, batteries have a lifespan of 2 to 5 years depending on the model.

Pads also need to be replaced after every use as they cannot be reused. They also have an expiry date which needs to be regularly checked as they may need replacing, even if they are untouched.

Most defibrillators perform daily self-checks and display a warning if they need attention. But by manually inspecting your defibrillator weekly, you can always have peace of mind that everything is in working order in case of an emergency.


Is there anything else I should keep with my Defibrillator?

Although not essential, there are a few items that may be handy if the defibrillator needed to be used. These include:

  • A towel or tissues – to dry a patient’s chest if it is wet or sweaty.
  • A razor – to shave the patient’s chest so the pads can be stuck on correctly.
  • Scissors – to cut the patient’s clothes quickly and easily.
  • A face shield - to protect the operator when administering CPR.


Should my business have an AED?

At the moment, there are no laws in the UK stating that a business must have an AED on-site. However, it is highly recommended that you do.

By purchasing an AED defibrillator, you are not only protecting the vital growth of your business, but also the health and safety of all your employees and visitors.

Cardiac arrest is a sudden and unexpected medical emergency that can happen to anyone without any prior symptoms.  By having and using a defibrillator before an ambulance arrives, you can significantly increase someone’s chance of survival.


We hope this article has helped you gain a better insight into what AED defibrillators are and how they are used.

You can view our full range of AED defibrillators and accessories on our website. If you have any questions or queries please do not hesitate to contact our friendly and knowledgeable team who would be more than happy to help.