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CPR course using automated external defibrillator device - AED

AEDs – Would you know how to use one?

Over the last few years I have been delighted to see the number of Public Access Defibrillators increase. They are appearing outside many more shops, libraries and community centres as well as in schools.

Often, but not exclusively, recognised by the bright yellow cabinets they are housed in, they are a welcome sight. How many people though are aware that they are for the use of the general public and that anyone can access them?

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World Heart Day 2014

Today is World Heart Day. This is an international campaign designed to raise the awareness of heart disease and to think about ways in which both heart disease and strokes can be prevented.
A poll of 2000 people conducted by the British Heart Foundation suggests that people are more worried about contracting cancer or dementia than worrying about heart disease. However heart disease is a big killer, one person dies every 7 minutes from heart disease and in many cases the disease could be prevented.  Risk factors include amongst others,  high blood pressure, smoking, high cholesterol and diabetes.  Prevention of heart disease is key, and it’s never too late to make changes.

So make today the day you decide to give up smoking, lose weight and make changes to your diet to minimize those risks. In addition make today the day you choose to learn to save a life by learning CPR and how to use a defibrillator.

At least 60 000 people suffer an out of hospital cardiac arrest each year and survival from this remains poor. Without access to defibrilllation and good quality CPR, only 2-12% survive. Access to a defibrillator, within the first few moments of a cardiac arrest can improve survival by up to 74 %.
CPR  techniques are now easier than they have ever been and the proliferation of public access defibrillators means more people have the opportunity to survive cardiac arrests than before, however greater awareness needs to be made of this and more need to sign up to learn these essential life saving skills and not be afraid to use a defibrillator. The machines are easy to use, they talk you through the process, step by step and cannot cause any further harm.
For more details take a look at our defibrillator faq page which will tell you more about defibs, how they work and how you use them.
For details on joining a first aid class to learn CPR take a look at our range of workplace first aid courses where you can learn your skills and qualify to be a workplace first aider.

Could your workplace benefit from an AED?

The simple answer is “Yes”!

Fabrice Muamba almost died in April and would have done so without an AED close at hand, and his coaches and the consultant cardiaologist who knew how to operate one.

30,000 people a year in the UK have a cardiac arrest out of hospital. Statistically if you have a cardiac arrest out of hospital your chances of surviving are poor; less than 10% people will survive. This appalling statistic hasn’t changed much in many years.

However with prompt intervention with an automated external defibrillator device and good basic CPR, your chances of survival go up to about 74%.

Many employers are often put off purchasing an AED on the basis of cost of the device, and the time that it takes to train staff to use one. However,  the machines themselves are very reliable and easy to use.

Sudden cardiac arrest is a leading cause of death and you have a responsibility for ensuring safety to your staff, visitors and customers so why not invest in an AED? After all, you invest in fire extinguishers and hope you will never need to use those either!

A Group of candidates learning to use a defibrillator during a first aid course

AEDs & Why we should all learn to use one

AEDs & Why we should all learn to use one

Defibrillators are the magic boxes that deliver a controlled electric shock that helps to get a heart that has gone into an irregular lethal rhythm back into a normal one.  Increasingly more of them are now being placed in strategic locations across the country; in shopping malls, airports, businesses, factories and offices. It is estimated that there are approximately 10,000 of them out and about in the UK.

Historically only those who have been trained to use one could do so. However since the latest guidelines on resuscitation have been published there is a greater emphasis on anyone being able to use one if it is available, although obviously having some training helps.

Ok I hear you say, what do they do, how do they work and are they really easy to use?

First – The Basics:

The heart pumps blood around the human body, delivering oxygen to all its vital organs. When someone has a heart attack, very often the damage causes their heart to go into an abnormal rhythm, the most common of which is ventricular fibrillation. This rhythm means that the heart cannot pump blood round the body, and if left untreated, the patient will die.  Every minute that the heart is not pumping, the chances of survival reduce by about 10%.

Research shows…

Research has shown that if an AED can be attached to a person whose heart has stopped and a shock delivered within the first few minutes of an arrest, the chances of success are high, at about 70%.  This is obviously good news as approximately 30,000 suffer a cardiac arrest, where the heart stops, each year.   By the way, without an AED, chances are more like 2% to 5%.
AEDs are very simple to use and the good news is that anyone can use them. Just turn them on and listen carefully to the automated instructions, which will tell you how and when to activate the device, and when to continue CPR.

Have a go

Next time you find a collapsed non breathing casualty try CPR and if there is an AED about don’t be afraid to use it. It isn’t possible to hurt someone by using it. The machines are programmed only to deliver shocks to those who are in a shockable rhythm like ventricular fibrillation and will not discharge a shock unless that is the case.
So have a go and remember you might just save a life!

Further Reading

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