An Automated External Defibrillator (AED) is a life saving device that can give a casualty’s heart an electric shock, when it has stopped beating normally in a cardiac arrest. By using a defibrillator before an ambulance arrives, you can significantly increase someone’s chance of survival.

It is very common that most communities have a Defibrillator installed and this may be within a close proximity of your location. If you have a helper with you, you should ask them to find and bring a Defibrillator, if available (you must ensure that the casualty is not left on their own. If a Defibrillator is not available, you must continue CPR).

Some AED’s are in locked cabinets which require a numerical code to unlock the door. The ambulance service will give the code to the person who makes the initial 999 call.

Before using a Defibrillator, you must ensure there is nothing around the chest area. Removing the following items may not be pleasant and can involve cutting clothing or ripping out any piercings but you must remember that time is crucial at this point and everything must be removed as quickly as possible, if possible. If it is wasting too much time removing the jewellery, then it can be left. This just means the Defibrillator can leave a small burn around the area of the piercing.

If possible:

  • Remove clothing
  • Remove any piercing’s from around the area
  • Remove a bra (if one is being worn)
  • Remove any other jewellery around the area

Key Points:

  • Assess them for responsiveness
  • Call for an ambulance
  • Open and clear the airway by tilting the head back and lifting the chin, if a blockage is seen, sweep it away with two fingers
  • Check for normal breathing
  • Place the heel of one hand in the centre of the chest, place your other hand directly on top
  • Keeping your elbows locked push down on their chest 30 times hard and fast (in your head sing ‘staying alive’ (Beegee’s) or ‘Nelly the Elephant’ as this will give you the rhythm for the compressions)
  • After the chest compressions administer 2 rescue breaths
  • Start again with compressions
  • Don’t give up! CPR can be exhausting but the chest compressions are maintaining life
  • If possible use a Defibrillator