Defibrillators dramatically improve a casualty’s chance of survival and are now widely available for the general public to use. However, we need far more in the community and work places to be able to have the major improvements on survival from cardiac arrest that is seen in other countries such as Sweden.

Why Defibrillators save lives

Sadly, there still remain common misconceptions about defibrillators that prevent people from incorporating them in their mainstream first aid equipment:


“Defibrillators are complicated!” – MYTH

They couldn’t be much easier! They speak to you and take you step by step through what you need to do to help save someone’s life. They are now available in so many public places and are easily accessible for the general public to grab and use as quickly as possible in a medical emergency. You do not need specific training to use them.


“You have to be medically trained to use them!”  – MYTH

Wrong! They are available for use by the general public. Ideally you would have received training in how to give the best CPR as this will make a huge difference and give them the best possible chance of survival. Using the defib is simple.


“You are jump starting the heart, like you do with a car!” – MYTH

You are not jump starting the heart. Quite the reverse, you are stopping the heart to allow the heart’s natural back-up system to take over and return it to normal sinus rhythm. Speed is of the essence – research has shown that the chances of survival for an out of hospital (community) cardiac arrest are only about 6%. If you can get the pads onto the patient’s chest within 3 minutes and they are in a shockable rhythm, the chances of survival jump to 74%. This drops by 10% for every minute’s delay in using the machine.


“You could make things worse!” – MYTH

You cannot use a defibrillator if the casualty does not need it! It will not let you – so apply the pads, switch on the machine, you simply can’t do anything wrong. If someone is unconscious and not breathing, if you don’t do anything they are dead.


“A Defibrillator will always bring them back to life!” – MYTH

Sadly, this is not the case. There are many reasons why someone may experience a sudden cardiac arrest and it is not possible to resuscitate everyone. However, good quality CPR, prompt use of a defibrillator and swift transfer to professional medical care, will give them the best possible chance.


“You need to wait until the heart has stopped before using the machine!” – MYTH

Quite definitely not the case. The sooner you use the defibrillator the better their chances of survival.


“They are expensive!” – MYTH

You can now get a quality defibrillator from us for less than £650.


“You can’t use them on children”  – MYTH

If a child is unconscious and not breathing, you should use a defibrillator as quickly as possible, in the same way as you would with an adult. You can use adult pads if you don’t have children’s ones available and would place one on the front of the chest and one on their back. For a child you start with 5 rescue breaths.


“You don’t need to do CPR if you are using a defibrillator” – MYTH

It is essential to be giving effective CPR alongside using the defibrillator. CPR circulates blood to the heart and brain. Without quality CPR it is highly unlikely the casualty will survive.


“Paramedics will always be there before I need to use it!” – MYTH

I am afraid that this is highly unlikely as our emergency services are hugely overstretched and they are not likely to be with you within 3 minutes.



For more information please email

It is strongly advised that you attend a Practical or online First Aid course to understand what to do in a medical emergency. Please visit or tel 0208 675 4036 for more information about our courses.

First Aid for life provides this information for guidance and it is not in any way a substitute for medical advice. First Aid for Life is not responsible or liable for any diagnosis made, or actions taken based on this information.

Emma Hammett, First Aid for Life

Tel: 0208 675 4036      www.

First Aid for Life is an award winning First Aid training business that is HSE and Ofqual Approved through Qualsafe Awards. Our trainers are medical and emergency services professionals and our training is tailored to your needs

We have great defibrillators available at really good prices – please email for more information