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First Aid Defibrillators

Learn about the importance of first aid defibrillators in the workplace should someone have a Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA).

Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) is a leading cause of premature death, but with immediate treatment, many lives can be saved in the workplace. Defibrillation is a crucial stage in a sequence of events that need to occur for resuscitation of a victim of SCA.

If an employee does suffer from a SCA, the first step is to contact the emergency services as soon as possible. After they have been called, the second step is providing basic CPR (chest compressions alternated with rescue breaths) to keep the victim alive until the third step, defibrillation, can be performed.

Sudden Cardiac Arrest Facts

SCA is an abrupt loss of pulse and consciousness caused by an unexpected failure in the heart’s ability to effectively pump blood to the brain and around the body.

In many cases, SCA victims can be saved if individuals nearby recognise what has happened and quickly implement the three-step process as stated above. Each of these stages is vital in order to provide the best chance of survival but the critical factor is the speed with which the shock is given. Defibrillation within three to five minutes of collapse can produce survival rates as high as 50-70%.

Stethoscope with heart

Sudden Cardiac Arrest Factors

SCAs are unpredictable and can happen to anyone at any time. However, there are factors that can severely increase the possibility of a SCA.

Individuals are at risk if they:

  • Have previously suffered a heart attack or heart disease
  • Have a family history of heart problems
  • Have an unknown heart condition
  • Are a victim of asphyxiation (drowning, choking, etc)
  • Are a victim of electrocution
  • Have had an impact injury to the chest

Factors That May Delay Defibrillation

Many factors in the workplace can also delay the timely delivery of potentially lifesaving resuscitation. These include:

  • Businesses based in remote locations which will likely be subject to longer response times by the emergency services
  • Urban or multi-storey locations which could prove difficult for emergency responders to reach due to the need to negotiate traffic, staircases, elevators, escalators, or crowds of people
  • Industrial campuses or businesses with spread out facilities which could also prove hazardous if first aid supplies and defibrillators are located in a distant building

The only definitive treatment for SCA is defibrillation – an electric current that "shocks" the heart so that a normal rhythm may resume. This "shock" must be delivered within minutes of the arrest to successfully prevent death.

For the best chance of survival, defibrillation should be delivered within the first four to six minutes. The likelihood of successful resuscitation decreases by around 7% to 10% with every minute that passes and after ten minutes without defibrillation, few attempts of resuscitation are successful.

As the average response time for emergency medical services in a typical community is eight minutes, an automated external defibrillator (AED) placed on site could mean the difference between life and death.

Heartbeat line on monitor

Defibrillator Case Studies

At least one defibrillator to be supplied to all state schools in England, with more defibrillators for larger campuses, by summer 2023 following a decade-long campaign by the family of Oliver King who died at the age of 12 from a sudden cardiac arrest during a swimming race.

In August 2013, former Ryder Cup golf captain, Bernard Gallacher, collapsed during a dinner at a hotel on the outskirts of Aberdeen. Without warning, Bernard had suffered an SCA which had caused his heart to stop beating.

Fortunately for Bernard, the hotel had a defibrillator on site and as a result of immediate actions of the staff with CPR and the use of live-saving shocks from a defibrillator, he survived. He went on to make a full recovery and had an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) fitted to prevent further cardiac arrests. Since the incident, Bernard has gone on to campaign to raise awareness of the need for defibrillators at golf clubs and at as many public venues as possible.

The Benefits of Defibrillators

There is currently no legislation in place in the UK which obliges certain businesses or premises to provide an Automated External Defibrillator (AED), however AEDs have been described as the single most important development in the treatment of SCA.

AEDs are easy to use, compact and portable. They are completely safe to employ and will not allow a shock to be given unless the individuals heart's rhythm requires it. These machines are also designed to be stored for long periods without use and require very little routine maintenance.

Browse our range of defibrillators and ensure your workplace has the appropriate first aid procedure in place to prevent a fatality.

Cardiac attack on the street, rescue team arrived in place

Register Your Defibrillator Today

If you have a defibrillator, we strongly recommend that it's registered on the British Heart Foundation's The Circuit - a national centralised defibrillator network that connects to NHS ambulance services across the UK for easy access in those crucial moments after a sudden cardiac arrest.

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