First Aid – using a defibrillator
Defibrillators are becoming a common item in many workplaces and public areas. How do they work and what do you need to do if required to use one?
What is a defibrillator?
An Automated External Defibrillator (AED) is a portable electronic device designed to treat sudden cardiac arrest. They are designed to be used by anyone.
FACT: 30,000 Australians suffer from Cardiac Arrest every year!
FACT: If defibrillated within the first minute of cardiac arrest, the chances for survival are close to 90%.
What is Sudden Cardiac Arrest?
The heart suddenly and unexpectedly stops beating. Blood stops flowing to the brain and other vital organs. Because there is no blood flow, brain injuries will occur if the SCA is not treated within 3 minutes, and death if not treated within 5 minutes if a combination of CPR and defibrillation do not occur.
Call 000 immediately and advise of suspected SCA.
How does a defib work?
The AED uses a combination of voice commands and heart analysis to guide you.
The defib WILL NOT SHOCK if the patient’s heart is not in ventricular fibrillation. You may still be required to maintain CPR until emergency services arrive.
What maintenance is required on a defib?
There are two main items that need to be checked regularly:
- Battery: the AED will have a battery life indicator on the front so you can quickly see if the battery is running low.
- Pads (adult / child): these have a two-year lifespan and the date of expiry is stamped on the packet. Always leave the pads in the original bag until they are needed to be used. These are a single use item and must be replaced after use.
If the AED is located in an alarmed storage box, the battery on the alarm / light is to be replaced.
Ensure the location of the AED is clearly signed.
Is it mandatory for my venue to have an AED?
The short answer is NO however as with your number and contents of your first aid kit and equipment, it can be a risk-based decision to install an AED in your venue. To assess, consider your staff and clientele demographics, whether you have sporting venues and facilities and access to the nearest emergency medical services and hospital. Is it a good idea? YES – as per the above fact, chances for survival increase to 90% if a cardiac arrest patient is defibbed within a short period of time.
Click here to download the Fact Sheet.