Why Defibrillators save lives

Why defibrillators save lives

Around 30,000 people in Britain every year, suffer a sudden cardiac arrest in the community.  They can affect anyone at any time – from young children at school, to adults when they are at home, work or out and about.

It is vital that anyone experiencing a cardiac arrest receives immediate and appropriate treatment, CPR and a defibrillator. Frighteningly figures from the British Heart Foundation show that only one in ten victims survive.

Our survival rate is considerably lower than that in Scandinavian Counties where there is a far higher importance paid to the education and training of school children and the general population to ensure they are sufficiently skilled and equipped to be able to help immediately someone collapses.

The difference is highlighted in this extremely moving film:

Defibrillators (AEDs), combined with effective CPR, save lives.

The difference between a cardiac arrest and a heart attack: A heart attack is when the supply of blood to a part of the heart is dramatically reduced, causing a part of the heart muscle to die. A cardiac arrest is when the heart, stops beating properly.

How many people actually die from cardiac arrest in the UK?

12 people under the age of 35 die each week from sudden cardiac arrest.

270 children die from sudden cardiac arrest suffered on school premises

Of the 30,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests, 80 per cent happen at home and 20 per cent occur in public places.

Every minute’s delay giving CPR and defibrillation reduces a victim’s survival rate by 7 to 10 per cent and therefore, quick action is absolutely vital, as without immediate treatment, 90-95 per cent of cardiac arrests prove fatal.

What should you do if you witness someone having a sudden cardiac arrest?

  • Call 999 – or ideally get someone else to make the call and report back to you. You can also put the phone on speaker so you can start CPR without delay.
  • Start CPR
  • Get someone to locate a defibrillator (AED) and bring it to you immediately.

With any luck, there will be one near you. For maximum accessibility, they are most common in public places such as train, but and tube stations, shopping centres, airports, dentists, GP Practices and leisure centres there are apps such as Heartsafe which can help locate the nearest AED.

Defibrillators are extremely easy to use and you cannot do any harm to an unconscious casualty by using one. If someone is unconscious and not breathing they need your assistance fast.

Defibrillators talk to you and give you clear instructions what to do. It is necessary to be giving good quality CPR in addition to using the defibrillator. When a defibrillator is used correctly combined with good CPR, the odds of someone’s survival can jump from around 6% to 74% – an incredible result.

For every minute’s delay in deploying the defibrillator the odds reduce by about 10%.

It is vital to act fast!

Only 40 per cent of bystanders in the UK who witness a cardiac arrest perform CPR

Research by the British Heart Foundation reveal that that only four in ten bystanders performed CPR, and that 62 per cent of British adults admitted to being worried about what to do if someone collapsed in front of them after suffering cardiac arrest.

Defibrillators make all the difference following sudden cardiac arrest, but more still needs to be done to increase awareness.

The most high-profile case surrounding defibrillators in recent memory involved footballer Fabrice Muamba, who suffered a cardiac arrest in 2012 that caused his heart to stop beating. He was incredibly lucky that the White Hart Lane had both trained people and an installed defibrillator. Muamba, who has since retired from the game due to the incident, is an ardent campaigner for the British Heart Foundation to raise awareness of maintaining a healthy heart and the importance of defibrillators.

Monday 16th October is the Resuscitation Council’s Restart a Heart Day




It is strongly advised that you complete an online or attend a practical first aid course to understand what to do in a medical emergency. Visit www.FirstAidforLife.org.uk, OnlineFirstAid.com or call 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.



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