We’ve been reading a lot in the media lately about defibrillators being installed in more and more public places –shopping centres, leisure centres, schools and workplaces, which is great news. But we also recently read a survey of 1000 business decision makers carried out by IOSH, which found that over half of those respondents said they did not have life saving equipment at work. Almost two thirds of those were medium to very large sized companies.
This is a shocking set of statistics, because each year in Great Britain approx 30,000 people have a cardiac arrest outside of a hospital, and the average response time for an ambulance in the UK is eight minutes. Research shows that the first three minutes following a cardiac arrest are crucial. If treatment is received in this timeframe it can increase the chance of recovery by up to 75%!
The survey also outlined many people’s reasons for not purchasing a defibrillator for their place of work. We were surprised with some of the responses! So, given that some people are still concerned about purchasing and using a defibrillator, we thought we’d help dispell the top 5 myths about buying and using AED’s:
1. I’ve never heard of it. What actually is an AED?
An automated external defibrillator (AED) is a life saving machine that gives the heart an electric shock in some cases of cardiac arrest. You’ll have seen them on TV programmes like Casualty and ER, most probably in a hospital setting.
The hospital versions of these machines are actually slightly different from an AED you might see on the wall of a school, shopping mall or leisure centre. These are actually designed for anybody to use and have very clear instructions to help you to use them correctly.
Cardiac arrest is when the heart stops pumping blood around the body. When someone has a cardiac arrest, defibrillation needs to be carried out very quickly. For every minute that passes without defibrillation chances of suvival decrease by 14%. Research shows that applying a controlled shock within five minutes of collapse provides the best possible chances of survival.
2. Do I need training to use an AED?
Of course it’s very important that when purchasing a defibrillator, you also arrange for key staff to be trained to use it correctly, (and obviously we can help with that.). However, in the event that no one with training is present during an emergency, they can still be used as they have very clear instructions. This might be the difference between life and death. We like this explanation from BHF.
3. Aren’t they difficult to use?
Defibrillators have audio and/or visual prompts to guide you through the process of using them. We provide courses on AED training for all those who purchase defibrillators from us. These half day courses cover the essentials and most importantly give people the confidence to use one properly. Research tells us that confidence is the most important thing for those acting in emergency situations. Confidence comes from experience and practice. But nevertheless, AED’s are designed for anybody to use, even this guy:
4. Can I do someone more harm than good if I don’t know how to use it?
Many people are worried about doing something wrong and causing more harm than good, a bit like this:
This isn’t going to happen to you! AED’s have built-in safeguards so that they do not deliver a shock unless they recognise the irregular heart rhythms of cardiac arrest, so you don’t need to worry about doing the wrong thing. AED’s should always be used alongside CPR and an ambulance should always be called when a casualty is not breathing, but they can be crucial in saving lives in the precious minutes before an ambulance arrives on the scene. Again, our training courses go through all of this information slowly and effectively, so that people feel more confident about what to do in those crucial few minutes.
5. Aren’t they really expensive?
Obviously, it’s pretty impossible to put a price on saving a life. But defibrillators are not actually as expensive as you think. A full defib kit including the device, carry case and rescue kit (containing all the necessary accessories) starts at around £1000, and this comes with a full warranty for 8 years. So, if you divide the cost over this 8-year period, it comes out to around £125 per year. Not as much as you might think.
So there you have it. We hope we’ve changed your mind about just what an essential piece of kit AED’s are. If you want to talk to us about buying a defibrillator or arranging an AED training course for your staff, give us a call on 0208 211 2054 and we can talk you through the options.