An AED also referred to as a defibrillator, is the name given to a device that allows members of the general public to try to restart a heart following cardiac arrest. AEDs are deliberately designed to be easy to operate. The device comes with a computer program that is capable of reading the heart rhythm and will only automatically discharge in the event that a shock is indicated.
AEDs are available in a wide range of settings within the community, particularly those that are seen as being a potentially high risk in terms of occupants, visitors, activities or locations, and may have a positive effect by preventing the occurrence of avoidable loss of life. There are no regulations governing the use by the general public.
Do you need AEDs at your facility?
There is no current statutory legal requirement that requires defibrillators to be provided under law in any location. Your decision whether to furnish your location with an AED needs to be considered within the context of whether those working, studying or visiting the site in question are likely to be at risk of suffering a cardiac arrest. Think about the speed and ease of gaining access to professional emergency services, as well as the cost of buying, installing and maintaining AEDs, and the training – initial and continuous – of staff members to be able to use the device.
Risk assessment when using an AED
Risk assessment should be based on factors such as:
- Frequency of on-site cardiac arrests; if such events take place at a minimum of once every two years, then having AEDs on site is supported by the Resuscitation Council UK
- The estimated time of treatment by a paramedic unit; if likely attendance time is over five minutes. AEDs could be a relevant factor
- The estimated time the onsite AED becoming available to treat the cardiac arrest victim. If this is longer than the estimated time of arrival of paramedics there is little point in having onsite AEDs
- The overall risk of the site in question (for example there is a higher risk of cardiac arrest at leisure centres and gyms)
- The nature of the site’s population (for example, there is a very low risk of frequent cardiac arrests occurring among university students)
Other factors that should be taken into consideration include:
- The commitment to ongoing AED training in line with the Resuscitation Council UK
- Cost and routine upkeep of AEDs
- System monitoring
- Legal implications
Quick Video on the use of AED