If someone has suddenly collapsed, is not breathing normally and is unresponsive, they are likely to have suffered cardiac arrest.
If you come across someone who has had a cardiac arrest it is vital to call 999 immediately, start CPR and then find out if there is a defibrillator (defib) nearby.
Defibs are reliable, computerised devices which are safe and easy to use and will not shock a victim who does not require one. Don't be afraid to use a defib if someone has had a cardiac arrest, you don't have to be a first aider to use one and even if you are untrained your actions could help save a life.
When defibrillation is delivered quickly, survival rates of as high as 75% have been reported.
You could be a Cardiac Responder and help save a life. Visit savealife.scot/goodsam to learn about CPR and sign up to the GoodSAM Responder App.
British Heart Foundation
The British Heart Foundation provides further information and helpful videos on signs of cardiac arrest, how to perform CPR and how to use a defibrillator:
In partnership with the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) we are also providing free CPR training to anyone who needs it. If you would like to receive this training, please email email@example.com.
Remember and register your defibrillator
If you are a community group or organisation that does have a defib, please ensure this is registered on The Circuit website.
The Circuit is the national defibrillator network, connecting defibrillators to NHS ambulance services across the UK so that in those crucial moments after a cardiac arrest, they can be accessed quickly to help save lives.
If you register your defibrillator you will receive regular reminders to record your checks and notification of when the electrode pads are about to expire.
Looking after your defibrillator
It is easy to look after a defibrillator. Every defibrillator manufacturer will provide a simple guidance booklet on how to do it so it's a good idea to look at that as there can be minor variation between brands.
In the meantime, we have listed the basic steps below to be carried out as a regular check:
- Defibrillators perform regular self-checks, so if everything is okay it will be indicated on a small LED screen, or by a green light on the front of the device. This is usually obvious on all models sold in the UK but check the handbook from the manufacturer if you are not sure. Check the rest of the defibrillator for any obvious signs of damage or use since you last checked it.
- Check to see if the items that are usually stored with it are still there such as a safety razor, scissors, and a face shield for use during CPR.
- Check the expiry date on the sticky pads. It they are out of date, replace them. You will probably have to open the defibrillator case to do this. When you open the case, the defibrillator may switch on automatically and begin to give instructions - this is normal and can be ignored when you are just carrying out a check. Once you close the case the defibrillator will switch off automatically. Avoid turning on the defibrillator needlessly as this can reduce the battery life. You can now return the defibrillator to where it is normally kept.
Regular checks will ensure that you are aware of when the electrode pads expire, whether your defibrillator has been used or if it has a fault, for example, the battery is approaching the end of its life. Therefore, it is important to have a routine in place for checking your defibrillator.