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Some of the reasons why you should think about having a defibrillator in your workplace

Health & Safety at work1. What is a Defibrillator?

A Defibrillator (also known as a Defib) is a small electrical device that provides a controlled shock to the heart, in the event of a life-threatening arrhythmia called ventricular fibrillation. The most common type of defibrillator is the AED (This is called an automated external defibrillator).

2. Why would someone need a defib?

When a cardiac arrest happens, there is a problem between the electrical impulses between the brains & the heart. This prevents the heart from pumping blood to the rest of the body.

Defibrillators save lives by giving a high energy electric shock to the heart through the chest wall when someone is in cardiac arrest.

The purpose of the electric shock is to restore the normal rhythm – to defibrillate the heart.

3. Difference between heart attack and cardiac arrest

A heart attack happens when there are issues in your body that pump blood to and from the heart.

Casualties may report chest pains days or weeks before the attack happens. The heart will still pump but, at abnormal rates; if you notice any signs of crushing chest pain or shortness of breath contact 999 immediately.

A sudden cardiac arrest is when the heart stops and the person falls unconscious.

4. How many times can a defib be used?

You can use a defib many times. You can also get replacement parts and most come with a manufacturers guarantee.

5. How many times can a person be defibrillated?

 It depends on a few factors:

  • How many shocks can the battery on your AED deliver?
  • The type of batteries do you have for your AED?
  • Every minute without CPR or defib reduces the victim’s survival chances by between 7% and 10%

However, a person can be shocked as many times as necessary, however, with each shock that fails to return the heart to a normal rhythm, the chances of survival decreases.

6. How often do defibs work?

Did you know around 30,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests occur every year in the UK?

Without any immediate treatment, 90-95% of cardiac arrest victims will die.

This is where the importance of defibrillators come into place.

Defibs can rapidly improve the survival after out-of-hospital cardiac arrests.

For victims who received a shock within three minutes of collapse, the survival rate was 74 %.  This is why the importance of having a defib is huge.

7. Can anyone use a defib?

Yes, you don’t need any formal training  – defibs are equipped with different levels of visual and auditory support to aid the user. Once you open the defib the unit tells you exactly what to do and won’t move onto until you have completed the current step.

8. Can you use a defib when a heart stops?

If someone has gone into sudden cardiac arrest, you should first conduct CPR to stimulate the hearts rhythm before using a defib.

This is from the NHS website, on how to perform CPR:

  1. Place the heel of your hand on the breastbone at the centre of the person’s chest. Place your other hand on top of your first hand and interlock your fingers.
  2. Position yourself with your shoulders above your hands.
  3. Using your body weight (not just your arms), press straight down by 5–6cm on their chest.
  4. Try to perform chest compressions at 100-120 chest compressions a minute.

You would then use the defib, follow the instructions carefully and repeat both CPR and the defib before emergency services arrive. Most defibs come with a CPR rhythm counter built in to guide you through this stage.

If the heart can be shocked quickly with a defib, a normal heart rhythm may be restored.

9. Can you defibrillate someone with a pacemaker?

A pacemaker is a small device that is placed in the chest or abdomen to control abnormal heart rhythm.

It’s not advisable to place the pads on the pacemaker even though, if they are experiencing sudden cardiac arrest it implies the pacemaker isn’t functioning properly.

The electrode pads pass current from one pad to another, so if you administer a defib shock to a pacemaker, place it a few inches below the recommended placement. Remember, the current needs to pass-through the heart between the two pads.

10. What do we do if we don’t have a defib?

You should always know where you nearest one is located. Sometimes you have to call an emergency number to get a key code.

I hope this has helped please don’t hesitate to contact me for any further information. I work with a great supplier who will be happy to help you with any further questions, thanks Joanne.