I recently, 'virtually', met with the account manager of a company that rents out defibrillators. I was so impressed with them, their service and the need for more defibrillators, especially in the workplace, community centres and the high street, that I agreed to help them by promoting the service. However, it then occurred to me that the majority of people may be like I was and ignorant of how they work and the benefits they bring. I decided to research the subject and produce this article.
A defibrillator is a machine that sends a high energy electric shock through the heart. This high energy electric shock is called defibrillation. The aim of this shock is to return a heart to its normal working state if it goes into cardiac arrest. They are used to prevent or correct an arrhythmia, a heartbeat that is uneven or that is too slow or too fast. Defibrillators can also restore the heart's beating if the heart suddenly stops.
A defibrillator works by checking the casualty's heart rhythm, once the defibrillator pads are placed on their chest, and giving them a shock if needed. Defibrillators can be used on adults or children over one year old. Did you know that there are nearly 300 deaths each year in schools amongst our children and having a defibrillator can help reduce this number.
With less than 1 in 10 people surviving a cardiac arrest outside of hospital, we must find alternative ways to help. The heart only stays in the right condition for defibrillation to be successful for just a few minutes, so we need that defibrillator on the victim ideally within the first 3-5 minutes if we stand a good chance of saving them. So when we say “quickly”, the only real way of making this happen reliably, is defibrillators in the community, near the areas we live and work.
By using a defibrillator before an ambulance arrives, you can significantly increase someone's chance of survival. A cardiac arrest can happen to anyone. Survival rates fall by 10% every minute without defibrillation. Using a defibrillator within three minutes of a cardiac arrest can improve a person's chance of survival as much as 70%.
When someone is having a Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA), every single second really does count. Knowing the exact location of your nearest defibrillator (AED) can make all the difference between life and death.
Most public access AEDs are easy to use with voice guided instructions, meaning you can respond and provide immediate life saving treatment, before the ambulance service arrives. Defibrillators can be used on adults or children over one year old.
You don’t even need training to use it. The defibrillator makes all the decisions for you, so you can be confident in the instructions it is giving you and they are safe to use.
In 2018 the British Heart Foundation (BHF) started a project in conjunction with Microsoft to set up 'The Circuit', a brand new National Defibrillator Network. Their aim is to have a defibrillator location database for use by all of the UK NHS Ambulance Trusts so that when a 999 call comes in, the Ambulance Service can direct the caller to the nearest defibrillator.
This database is not open to the public, it's only for use by the NHS; but it very much needs the help of the public and volunteers to input in the location of their local defibrillators.
There’s no centralised, national database of defibrillators in the UK. If you call the emergency services and provide your location, the operator should be able to tell you where your nearest defibrillator is.
I was unaware of how they were provided, I certainly didn't know they could be hired. At 99p per day for a 4 year rental which includes the cost of replacement pads and batteries, it is not expensive. If you say employ 10 people, that works out at about 10p per employee per day, 70p a week, £35 a year, what price do we put on a life? Why not help each other? We encourage shops, offices or industrial units to Group together and hire one together, this reduces your costs and potentially helps more employees, customers and public. Anyone at anytime could have a cardiac arrest, who knows who may need a defibrillator, it could be you!