How to look after a defibrillator

How to look after a defibrillator. Image of a man wearing a blue t-shirt and jeans, lying down on the floor in a warehouse floor. A woman in a white shirt and jeans has pulled up his t-shirt and is applying a defibrillator to his chest.

How to look after a defibrillator

Estimated reading time: 9 minutes

When it comes to emergency first aid, quick action is always imperative and never more so when it is suspected that someone’s heart has stopped. Did you know that without quick intervention, only around 10% of people who suffer a heart attack out in the community survive? This rises to 80% with speedy emergency treatment. These days defibrillators, “automatic external defibrillators” or “automated external defibrillators” (AED’s for short), are a common sight in workplaces, schools and when out and about. They do, however need to be looked after to make sure that, when they are needed, they work perfectly. In this guide we will look at how to look after a defibrillator.

What are Automatic External Defibrillators

Not all cardiac arrests result in an abnormal rhythm that can be shocked using an AED. A large number of cardiac arrests are caused by something called ventricular fibrillation, which is a fast and erratic heartbeat originating in the ventricles and this type of abnormal rhythm is exactly what an AED is designed to help with.

AEDs are portable units which have in-built sensors to check the patient’s heart rhythm and then automatically apply an electric shock to the heart to stop it and essentially, allow it to “reset”. There are semi-automatic (automated) versions which do the same but require the user to press a button to create the shock. The important thing for anyone using an AED to remember is that the unit will not shock someone who does not need it.

How to look after a defibrillator

There is no point having an AED if it can’t be used due to poor maintenance and anyone providing an AED either at work or for public use, should make sure that their unit is maintained and serviced. Here are the main things to keep on top of:

  • AEDs perform self-checks on a regular basis. However, someone should be tasked with double checking that no issues have been found by the AED itself each week. You should log when these checks are done.
  • The pads have a shelf life and need to be checked and replaced as required. Most pads will have an expiry date on them and as part of your checks you need to check that they are still in-date and replace as required. Always log when the pads are replaced.
  • Check that the items which are normally stored in the AED storage box are there. This includes things like the safety razor, scissors and face shield. Keep an inventory of what is supplied with the unit and check monthly that they are still there.
  • Check the battery life. Typically, a battery will have a shelf-life of between 2 and 5 years depending on the make and model. Replace the battery/batteries if the self-check shows and issue or after the appropriate time as required. Always maintain a log of when you replace the battery.

The St.John Ambulance Brigade have a great little defibrillator inspection checklist which you can use to ensure that your defibrillator is regularly checked and always in working order.

How to look after a defibrillator

After Use

It is important to note that, after a defibrillator is used it will need checking again. The pads will need to be replaced and the whole unit will need to be wiped down with anti-bacterial wipes. The unit will need a thorough check over to ensure that nothing has been damaged in use and the battery will need checking to ensure it is still in a working condition. If not, then it will need to be replaced. Finally, replace any other consumable items that have been used from the unit.

Register your defibrillator

If you do have a defibrillator, please register it with The Circuit. This is the British Heart Foundations national defibrillator network. This network links in with the ambulance service and, if someone has used your defibrillator, The Circuit will automatically send you an email to say that the unit has been used. More importantly, it allows the 999 operators to know exactly where all defibrillators are kept making it easier for them to guide someone giving emergency first aid.

Purchasing defibrillators and replacing consumables

New to the market and ideal for anyone who thinks having personal access to an AED makes sense, CellAED have a handheld, personal AED device which can be stored at home or work ready for use in an emergency situation. These single use AED devices have a lot lower financial outlay than the larger kits, making them more accessible for families and workplaces. They are easy to use, simply snap, peal and apply. As 9 out of 10 sudden cardiac arrests happen at home or at work these budget friendly Smart devices are literal life savers.  

Whichever defibrillator you get or have, make sure that you’re looking after it on a regular basis and recording your findings. If you find that a maintenance issue needs to be seen to, get it done as soon as you can. You never know when you might need to use it to save a life.

How to look after a defibrillator

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