What is an Automated External Defibrillator?

What does it do?

Why would I need one?

Where would I find one?

How do I use one?

If, like most people, you don’t know all of the answers to those questions, here is a very short article to shed some light!

An Automated External Defibrillator, or AED, is a life-saving device that is easy to use and is freely available in or nearby to almost all communities or workplaces.

When a person suffers a cardiac arrest, that is, if their heart suddenly and unexpectedly stops, electrical impulses that normally keep the heart beating become erratic and chaotic as the heart struggles to keep going.

An AED delivers an electrical impulse that overrides these chaotic and erratic dying impulses, and can hopefully restore the heart’s own intrinsic electrically led rhythm and start the heartbeat again. In 74% of cardiac arrests, if an AED is brought to the casualty and the shock delivered within three minutes, the casualty can survive. Without an AED, the chance of survivability is reduced to approximately 8%. Some difference!

According to The Resuscitation Council UK, most cardiac arrests (72%) occur in the home or a workplace (15%). Half of all OHCA are witnessed by a bystander, without a medical professional present. Most cardiac arrests occur in adults (98%), amongst whom one third (33%) were aged 15-64 years. (That’s an adult of working age!)

On most of my First Aid at Work training courses, there is at least one attendee who has had to perform CPR at some point in their life. Sadly, most of them did not have the training in how to access or use an AED. They all say that they wish they had that knowledge at the time.

Most communities have a publicly accessed AED. An increasing number of workplaces now have one. There is currently a drive to have an AED in every school in England, with hopefully the rest of GB to follow suit.

Anyone can access an AED by calling 999. The call handler will tell you where the nearest one is and how to access it. There is no charge for this service.

You can learn how to use an AED by contacting Steve Jenkins of First Aid Training GB by email