It is not uncommon for questions to arise when considering whether or not to purchase a defibrillator. Below is a list of questions that frequently arise. When clicked, each question will expand to show the answer.

An AED is a very safe and easy to use electronic device, designed to be used by a layperson. It automatically reads the heart rhythm of someone who may have suffered a cardiac arrest and diagnoses if an electrical shock is required to restore a normal heart rhythm. If it is required, an AED will safely deliver a controlled electrical shock to the heart.
Yes, they are designed to be used by laypeople. AED’s use a series of illustrations and calm voice prompts to guide someone through the whole process, step by step.
No, AED’s are designed to be used by anyone. An AED will use a series of voice prompts and illustrations to give step by step guidance. It is impossible to give a shock to the heart of someone who does not need one
No, you can do no harm with an AED. They will only allow an electrical shock to be delivered to the heart of someone who needs it. A shock cannot be delivered in error. When someone has a cardiac arrest, life cannot be sustained. In fact, someone is technically already dead after suffering a cardiac arrest and they will not have a chance of survival without early CPR and early defibrillation.
If someone has suffered a cardiac arrest, they are already technically dead. Using an AED will offer the best chances of restoring life. An AED cannot and will not allow a shock to be delivered to the heart of someone who does not need one.
It is impossible to shock someone who does not need it. An AED will only deliver a shock if the heart requires one. You cannot make things worse.
For every minute that passes without early CPR and defibrillation, there is a 10% drop in the chances of survival. Current UK NHS Ambulances are targeted to reach people suffering a cardiac arrest within 8 minutes, nevertheless they may encounter challenges such as traffic congestion, difficult access, crowds and travelling to remote areas which can delay their arrival on scene. The sooner CPR and an AED is used, the more effective trained medical staff can be when they arrive.
An AED should be used when it is suspected someone has suffered a cardiac arrest.
A cardiac arrest is when the heart suddenly stops pumping blood around the body. It is caused by a problem with the electrical system of the heart. Death of a person suffering a cardiac arrest can occur within minutes.
You will not know for sure, which is why an AED is so important. Someone who has suffered a cardiac arrest will be unresponsive, not moving and not breathing. The heart will have stopped pumping blood around the body, so someone suffering a cardiac arrest will lose consciousness almost immediately and will also show no visible signs of life – such as movement or breathing.
No, the term heart attack is often used by mistake to describe a cardiac arrest. A heart attack is when a blockage prevents blood getting to the heart. This causes death of the heart muscle, not necessarily the death of the person suffering a heart attack. A heart attack might lead to a cardiac arrest, but the terms do not mean the same thing.
Anyone can use an AED. Untrained people have used them successfully to save a life and lack of training (or recent refresher training) should not be a barrier. It is desirable for people to be trained in the use of an AED and that they keep their skills up to date, but if the circumstances dictate that no trained operator is present, someone willing to use an AED must not be deterred from doing so. (UK Resuciation Council, 2010 & 2013)
Defibrillation is the term used to describe the process of delivering a controlled electrical shock to the heart with an AED to restore the heart to a normal rhythm.
Yes. You will need to check with the manufacturer of the AED as to the changes required to make an AED safer for children between 1 and 8 years old. The iPAD SP1 has a simple switch selection if it is to be used on a child between 1 and 8 years old. Some models of AED require different electrode pads or settings to be changed.
Yes. A mother will need to be resuscitated if a unborn baby is to survive.
Yes. You would need to ensure the immediate skin area on the chest is dried off and shelter provided where possible. There is no immediate danger to the person using the AED.
This is when an AED is placed in a public place. This can be anywhere where people gather. Ideally this could be in areas where there is a high incidence or risk of cardiac arrest or in areas where it is hard for the Ambulance Service to access e.g rural areas, crowded areas, high traffic congestion & poor road networks (British Heart Foundation, 2014).
There is currently no legislation in place to make AED’s mandatory in the workplace. There are efforts being made to promote the introduction of legislation to make the provision of AEDs mandatory in the workplace, schools, sports venues, and certain public buildings (UK Resuscitation Council, 2013)
This is very unlikely. In English law, for someone to be held liable it would have to be shown that the intervention had left someone in a worse situation than if there had been no intervention. In the case of a cardiac arrest under discussion (i.e. someone is technically dead following a cardiac arrest) it is very unlikely that this would arise. No case brought against someone who tried to provide first aid has been successful in the UK, where the courts have tended to look favourably on those who try to help others (UK Resuscitation Council 2010).
In the workplace, someone using an AED will be shielded by the Employer’s Liability Insurance against any litigation if the person dies (Resuscitation Council, 2013).