AED – would you use one?

Back in 2012 I did a blog piece shortly after Fabrice Muamba collapsed at White Hart Lane. I wanted to revisit the issue of AEDs (Automated External Defibrillators) after a recent personal experience.

When I do first aid courses I show students an AED and give them hands on experience and really try to get them on board and sell AEDs as absolute lifesavers.

I recently did two lunchtime chats for staff of a very large Defence Contractor. I would say in the region of 50 people + turned up to each of the 15 minute talks.

What prompted me to do this particular blog post is that one of the first questions I asked was “how many people in here would pick this (AED) up and have a go at using it if you were confronted with an unconscious patient who was not breathing?”

I found it astounding that not even 5% of the audience would have a go. Why? Well my initial thought is that we live in this awful blame culture where people will look at any way to point the finger and claim compensation.

Because of this people are reluctant to have a go, believing that:

a. The AED is a complex piece of equipment


b. That because they are not trained then they cannot use it

defibrillator or aed

Have you seen the British Heart Foundation advert featuring Vinny Jones talking about chest compressions? Are you first aid trained? No? That is exactly the point of the advert. It is designed to inform people with no first aid experience on how to give chest compressions if there are no trained persons at the scene. It is a funny advert with a deadly serious message; if you do nothing the person is more than likely going to die.

“What about Health and Safety?” I hear you cry. Of course the HSE (Health and Safety Executive) advocate training. So does the Resuscitation Council (UK) The HSE control first aid in the workplace through L74 Health and Safety First Aid Regulations 1981. The HSE (on their website) also mention and talk about AEDs. If you follow the hyperlink you will see a statement there providing another link to the Resuscitation Council (UK). There you will see that they advocate training BUT mention in bold writing

“the use of AEDs should NOT be restricted to trained personnel”

They are complex pieces of equipment BUT rest assured, they are very user friendly and it’s impossible to get it wrong. You cannot deliver a shock to the casualty unless the AED determines that a shock should be delivered. You cannot override the AED or inadvertently deliver a shock. You can connect the AED to the patient quite safely and the AED will NOT deliver a shock unless it determines a shock is needed.

The UK has an appalling survival rate for out of hospital cardiac arrest. Over 30,000 cardiac arrests occur out of hospital each year and the survival rate is 2% (600 out of 30,000). AEDs are not mandatory in the workplace however there are more about than you may think. On the technology park where I am based we have 10 around various parts of the site.

Do you remember why I am writing this post? Because of the reaction to a question during a talk on AEDs. All those people who initially failed to raise their hands were resigning a cardiac arrest victim to probable death. How can that be right? I will say now that after I had given the talk the response was amazing with all of the attendees saying they would have a go and this is exactly what we need. How can it be that in our technically advanced country only 2% of public cardiac arrest patients survive. Fabrice Muamba is living proof that it works.

Ask yourselves this question. If it was you or a member of your family laying motionless and not breathing would you want someone, anyone, to do what they could to help try and save them? I know I would so please get in touch with me or 02392 415540 and I’ll happily chat to you about AED use or provide training and information.


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