Are defibrillators useful?

So are defibrillators useful? Sudden Cardiac Arrest is an electrical malfunction of the heart in which the heart stops pumping blood to the body and brain. This is due to an abnormal heart rhythm known as an arrhythmia.  As the casualty loses consciousness and the ability to breathe, they are termed ‘clinically dead’. In this situation they can only be physically brought back to life in a very small window of time using a defibrillator or AED.

Following a Cardiac arrest, the chance of a person surviving decreases by 23% per minute. It is therefore very important to get medical treatment as soon as possible. The UK Resuscitation Council suggests an AED should be available wherever medical treatment is more than 5 minutes away. As a result, you will now see public access defibrillators in lots of public spaces. These can include shopping centres, gyms, train stations, village halls, etc. These defibrillators are about the size of a briefcase and usually located on a wall with a brightly coloured sign on to identify it. It is there for all and anyone to use, regardless of training, when someone goes into cardiac arrest.

A defibrillator delivers an electrical current through the chest which aims to shock the heart back into a normal rhythm allowing it to pump again.

Defibrillators are simple and safe to use. However, they don’t all look the same. Once opened and turned on, all you have to do is follow the spoken instructions. Once in position, the defibrillator detects the heart’s rhythm. It won’t deliver a shock unless one is needed.

The rate of survival of a person who has a sudden cardiac arrest is dependent upon time. The quicker the intervention, the better the outcome. Brain death starts after 3 minutes so urgent action is needed, especially in rural areas.

So are defibrillators useful? I think we can all agree they are a very useful piece of kit to have within your local area. So when you’re next out and about, familiarise yourself with the location of any AED’s. If your area does not yet have one, then get fundraising and get one installed. It could save your life one day!

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