About Sudden Cardiac Events
What is a sudden cardiac arrest (SCA)?
A sudden cardiac arrest, or event, happens when the heart effectively malfunctions and stops beating unexpectedly. It is triggered by an electrical problem in the heart that causes an irregular heartbeat. This affects the heart’s ability to pump blood around the body and to the brain which can quickly cause a person to lose consciousness with no pulse. If treatment is not administered then a sudden cardiac event can often lead to death.
Is it the same as a heart attack?
A heart attack occurs when a blocked artery prevents oxygen-rich blood from reaching a section of the heart. If the blocked artery is not reopened quickly, the part of the heart normally nourished by that artery begins to die. Unlike a sudden cardiac arrest, the heart usually doesn’t stop beating during a heart attack, however the longer a person goes without treatment, the greater the damage.
Can you use a defibrillator for every type of cardiac event?
If a person is presenting as unresponsive and with no pulse then it is best to treat as a sudden cardiac arrest. If a defibrillator is available then this is by far the best course of treatment to administer as the Defibrillator will only deliver therapy if its needed. if no Defibrillator is present then you should start CPR until the emergency services arrive.
Should I still call 999 if there is a defibrillator available?
Yes! The best and safest thing you can do for someone suffering any kind of heart issue is call the emergency services so that you and the patient know that professional help is on the way. Once this is done, consider whether any treatment can be provided whilst you are waiting, such as using a defibrillator or providing CPR. The quicker you can provide lifesaving support, the better than chances of the patient.
About Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs)
What does a defibrillator do?
When the heart has stopped beating or has entered into an irregular rhythm, a defibrillator sends an electrical current through the heart to jolt it into beating again. The shock itself is called defibrillation. Electrodes or pads are placed on the chest of the patient and these act as a conduit for the shock to reach the heart. Once the pads are in place, technology within the AED will monitor the hearts rhythm and will only delivery a shock if it is needed, as shocking an already healthy heart can be very damaging.
What’s the main difference between types of defibrillators?
There are two main types of AEDs – semi-automatic and fully-automatic. A fully-automatic defibrillator has technology that allows it to read the underlying heart rhythm of the patient through pads that are applied to their chest and if a shock is needed, it will issue a warning to ‘stand clear’ and administer the shock automatically without any human intervention needed.
A semi-automatic defibrillator will still detect the underlying heart rhythm using the same kind of pads applied to the patient’s chest but it will then prompt the user to make sure everyone is standing clear and to push a button to administer the shock.
What should I look out for when choosing one?
The technology is amazing whether you select a fully-automatic or semi-automatic defibrillator and regardless of which make or model you chose, they are all designed to save lives. However, there are some slight differences in technology, size and storage options so it’s important to make the right choice for your circumstances. Here are some things to think about:
- Where will it be located – this will affect the kind of storage capability you need and also help you decide between fully and semi-automatic, as if it’s likely the users will be untrained in the equipment then we would likely recommend a fully-automatic model
- What features are important to you – are you looking for something simple and basic or something a little more advanced, for example that can save and transfer data
- Ease of use – some models are simpler to use than others so knowing who might be using it and their level of confidence in deploying the defibrillator will help you narrow down your choices
- Cost – while the costs don’t vary hugely, there is a difference between models so if you have a budget in mind, use this to help you
Can anyone use a defibrillator?
Yes. All devices are designed to be intuitive for the user so in the event of an emergency, anyone can use them. However, where training has been provided and a user is more familiar with the technology and how it works, they are likely to be more confident in how to respond to an emergency.
Is a defibrillator safe to use on a child?
It is safer than not using one, however it’s worth knowing that some defibrillators have a paediatric mode and/or special paediatric pads which lowers the level of the shock to a safe level for a child. If you select a model with this functionality then it will automatically adjust as necessary when the paediatric pads are applied or when the appropriate mode is selected.
If this option is not available then it is still preferable to use a standard adult defibrillator to try and shock the heart back into a normal rhythm rather than waiting for emergency services to arrive as the chance of survival in both adults and children decreases by 10% for every minute that treatment is not given.
Can I hurt someone by using a defibrillator?
As long as the person you are treating is having a cardiac event, such as a sudden cardiac arrest, and the heart is either beating irregularly or has stopped beating all together, then a defibrillator offers the best chance of survival.
Public access defibrillators (PADs)
How can I store a PAD securely so it doesn’t get stolen or vandalised?
Sadly, we know that this can happen so we have a range of cabinets and storage options available. These can be locked with a physical key or number code that you can share with as many people as you need to.
If you are putting a Public Access Device in place then a secure cabinet should be ordered alongside your defibrillator. Once you have registered your device then the emergency services will be able to provide an access code to the cabinet should an emergency situation occur.
Can I sponsor a PAD cabinet?
Yes! Please talk to one of our experts about the options for sponsorship and branding.
How do I contact my local ambulance service?
Please visit the AACE (https://aace.org.uk/uk-ambulance-service/map-of-nhs-ambulance-services/) and use their interactive map to help you find your local ambulance service. Simply get in touch and let them know you’d like to register a defibrillator and they’ll help you from there.
How do I raise awareness within my organisation/workplace/community?
We have a fantastic toolkit available to help get you started with lots of helpful information to help you promote your new defibrillator as part of our ‘livesaving bundles’. Once you’ve placed your order, we’ll send this over; if there’s anything else you think we can do to help then just ask!
How do I arrange training?
Training is a fantastic way to increase awareness of cardiac events and the use of defibrillators as well as increasing confidence levels in the event an emergency situation happens. To discuss training, whether one-to-one or group, classroom-style or virtual, speak to one of our lovely team who will be happy to work with you to create the perfect training package.
Where can I purchase additional consumables and accessories?
Pads, batteries, storage, signage – all of these are available on our website for you to purchase to make sure your defibrillator is always ready to use. Talk to us about building a package alongside your defibrillator or if you’re just topping up supplies then we’re confident you’ll find what you’re looking for. And if you can’t, just get in touch and we’ll do our best to help!