A defibrillator is a life-saving device used to treat Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA), a condition that occurs when the heart unexpectedly stops pumping due to a sudden knock or an underlying medical condition. When a defibrillator analyses the heart rhythm and recognises an abnormal rhythm, it will decide whether a shock is required to be delivered or not. A defibrillator is also known as an automated external defibrillator (AED) or simply a ‘defib’.
Defibrillation is the process of attempting to restore the heart’s normal rhythm and is crucial in the first five minutes following a SCA to maximise the person’s chance of survival.
A Sudden Cardiac Arrest is a condition that occurs when the heart unexpectedly stops pumping.
Each year, SCA strikes approximately 30,000 Australians. Unfortunately, fewer than 9%
survive, often because help cannot reach them in time. The average ambulance response
time is between 9-14 minutes. SCA is not gender or age specific.
Without defibrillation, for every minute that passes, the chance of survival is reduced by 10%. Application of an AED within minutes increases the survival rate.
In accordance with the DRSABCD Action Plan, if a person is not breathing, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) should be commenced. A defibrillator should be applied whenever CPR is performed. If the person is breathing, regardless of whether they are responsive (conscious) or not responsive (unconscious), a defibrillator is not required.
A defibrillator delivers a set amount of electrical shock to the heart after it analyses the heart rhythm. It determines whether a shock is required to the heart via adhesive electrode pads attached to the person’s chest. The shock delivered by a defibrillator interrupts the chaotic rhythm of the heart and gives the heart the chance to return to its normal rhythm.
There are different manufacturers of AEDs, which mean there are slight differences in how they operate. However, they all instruct you on what to do and operate in a very similar manner.
Heart Safe Australia recommends the Physio-Control LIFEPAK range of AEDs.
Examples of AEDs:
Anyone can use a defibrillator – it is just a matter of following the voice prompts provided by the unit.
However, training is recommended to give the user greater confidence.
If there is normal heart rhythm, an AED will not allow a shock to be delivered. For example, if a person thinks the casualty is not breathing but the heart is beating, an AED will assess whether there is a heart rhythm and advise by voice command that a shock is not required. The AED will not allow a shock to be delivered.
No. An AED guides the user step-by-step through the defibrillation process with visual and voice prompts. The AED will not deliver a shock unless it detects a shockable rhythm, e.g. the heart is not beating regularly.
Once a shock is delivered, an AED will continue to monitor the person’s heart rhythm. If the analysis reveals that the heart has stopped beating, it will advise that a shock is required. Follow the prompts given by the AED.
No. The AED assesses the status of a person’s heart and will not shock a normal heart beat.
Defibrillation is most effective when carried out as quickly as possible in the first few minutes after a Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA).
HSA recommend that you attend training by watching the training DVD or a completing a CPR course, as it will give you greater confidence in the use of a defibrillator.
Watch this video - http://www.physio-control.com/channel/#cid2147488933
Heart safe Australia has preferred providers across the country either online courses or face to face – contact us for a referral
Self-maintenance and visual inspection
Replacement of consumables:
Note: The LIFEPAK defibrillator units supplied by Heart Safe Australia have an 8 year warranty (excludes pads and battery).
PulsePoint is an Phone app that makes it easier to find publicly accessible defibrillators nearest to you. It has the potential to reduce the time it takes to find a defibrillator by using the built-in Google Maps function. PulsePoint is available for download at the iTunes store.