A defibrillator is a life-saving device that gives a high-energy electric shock to the heart of someone in cardiac arrest. The high-energy shock is called defibrillation and is essential for treating an individual in cardiac arrest.

When a person experiences a Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA), normal heart rhythm becomes disrupted, their heart doesn't beat properly and they become unable to breathe as normal. Without immediate attention, it is likely the person will die.

A defibrillator works by providing a high-energy shock to the heart to restore the heart's natural rhythm and enable it to beat normally again. Defibrillators are simple to use by either trained or untrained users, and are often the difference between life and death.

For every minute that passes following a cardiac arrest without treatment, a casualties chance of survival decreases by 10%.

If someone becomes unresponsive and they are not breathing normally, you must act fast.  Unresponsiveness, abnormal breathing and no movement or sign of life all indicate that a person could be in cardiac arrest. A defibrillator should be used to analyse the heart, it will only shock if it is required. You do not need to be trained to use a defibrillator. The device guides you through each step of the rescue to make the process as simple as possible for any user. 


4 Steps to Save a Life

Sudden Cardiac Arrest strikes anyone, any time or place. If you ever witness a Sudden Cardiac Arrest, knowing what to do could save a life.

The following steps give someone experiencing SCA the best chance of survival. To help a person in cardiac arrest you should:

  1. Call 999 - the call handler will then guide you through CPR and let you know where your nearest defibrillator is
  2. Start CPR
  3. Ask someone to bring the nearest defibrillator (If there is no one else available to help, listen to the emergency operator for further instructions)
  4. Turn on the defibrillator and follow the instructions

We are encouraging everyone to register their defibrillator with The Circuit. When you register your defibrillator on The Circuit, the location of the defibrillator and readiness status is instantly synchronised with the emergency services' systems to ensure the information is kept up to date and ready to help save lives.

Are there times when a defibrillator should not be used?

Effective treatment from a defibrillator, combined with CPR within the first 3-5 minutes of a Sudden Cardiac Arrest taking place boosts survival chances from approximately 6-74%. Just 1 in 10 people survive cardiac arrest, often due to a lack of immediate, effective treatment. 

It's important to know when to use a defibrillator. There are some situations - even in the event of a cardiac arrest - that the use of a defibrillator may be unwarranted, ineffective, or unnecessary.  Whilst no harm can be done by a defibrillator when it is not required, it's worth bearing the following situations in mind:

  • Is there evidence of a DNR on the person suffering a cardiac arrest? If a "Do Not Resuscitate" tattoo or bracelet is visible on the person, defibrillation may violate their wishes.
  • Is the person suffering from a heart attack? A heart attack is different from a cardiac arrest. A person suffering a heart attack is usually conscious and suffering from pain.  A heart attack often leads to cardiac arrest at which point they would require treatment from a defibrillator.
  • Are there readiness concerns with the defibrillator? Regular self-tests performed by the device offer reassurance that the defibrillator is able to carry out life-saving treatment in an emergency.

Some scenarios might require you to take additional precautionary measures before treating someone in cardiac arrest:

  • Does the person have a pacemaker? Do not place the electrode pads directly on top of the pacemaker, place it as close to the target area as possible without the pads touching the pacemaker. Pacemakers are usually placed near the left shoulder.  Following the instructions on the pad packing will ensure the correct placement to avoid items such as pacemakers.
  • Do they have a very hairy chest? A lot of hair may interfere with the defibrillator's ability to detect a shockable rhythm. Razors are included with rescue kits. Shave the area before applying the pads. If no razor is available, you should apply as much direct pressure as possible when placing the pads on to the casualty.
  • Are they wet and/or lying in standing water? If so, they should be moved away from the water (eg puddle), and the chest area dried before attempting to administer a shock.
  • Are you in a moving vehicle? A defibrillator cannot analyse accurately in a moving car. The vehicle should be stopped  as soon as it is safe to do so, to provide treatment to a person in cardiac arrest.


More Information

Anyone can use a defibrillator to provide treatment to someone in cardiac arrest. Do not hesitate to get in touch to find out more about Sudden Cardiac Arrest and defibrillators.

defibshop are committed to equipping everyone with the skills and knowledge to save a life. Speak to one of our Product Specialists on 0161 776 7422 or fill out our Contact Form.