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Every Second Counts - The Rise of Public Access Defibrillators

It is rare that we find ourselves travelling through a rural village, in a busy supermarket or on a high street without seeing a Defibrillator. But what are they, and why are they important?

An Automated External Defibrillator (AED) or as we know them, a Defibrillator is a compact, portable, easy to use, safe and very effective device. They can be used by anyone, whether or not they have had formal training. An AED gives the person using it voice instructions and will not allow a shock to be given unless the collapsed person needs one. AEDs can be stored for long periods without use and need very little maintenance (Resus Council, UK)

In order for a Defibrillator to be available 24 Hours a Day, 7 Days a Week, they need to be fitted in an external cabinet, that mounts to an external wall. This allows the ambulance service operator to direct the caller to the nearest Defibrillator Cabinet in the event of a Cardiac Arrest, where a person collapses and stops breathing.

Chance of survival decreases by around 10% for EVERY MINUTE that Defibrillation is delayed.

Providing a Public Access Defibrillator in your local area or workplace means that in the event of a Cardiac Arrest, bystanders will be able to provide Early Defibrillation to a casualty, prior to the arrival of an Ambulance. A lot of workplaces and organisations that have defibrillators inside buildings or on private premises are now supporting their local area by placing their Defibrillator in an External Cabinet - making it accessible to the local area.

What's in the box?

Typically, supplied with most Defibrillators, you can expect to find:

  • The Defibrillator itself (normally in a Carry Case)

  • A Non-Rechargeable Battery (Inside the Defibrillator, they do not charge and typically last between 4-5 Years).

  • A Pair of Electrode Pads (These are the adhesive pads that connect the patient to the Defibrillator, normally pre-connected to the Defibrillator)

  • A Starter Kit or Accessory Kit (Accessories such as a Razor and Scissors to assist with applying the Defibrillator).

Defibrillator Cabinets - Why?

Although Defibrillators do not 'charge' from a mains supply, as they are fitted with a 'Non-Rechargeable Battery', external defibrillator cabinets require a 240V Power Supply for a heating unit inside the cabinet, that protects the Lithium based battery during cold temperatures.

In most defibrillator cabinets, the cabinet is illuminated by an interior light, making them easy to identify at night or in low light levels.

Cabinet such as the DefibSafe2 Outdoor AED Cabinet has a fan feature that circulates air around the cabinet. This prevents condensation inside the cabinet, that overtime can cause some damage to the Defibrillator in considerable quantities, or in most cases, creates some discolouring to the case of the Defibrillator itself.

Why are they locked I hear you ask!

This is a common debate among organisations looking to install a Public Access Defibrillator.

Whether the Defibrillator is installed in a Locked or Unlocked Outdoor Cabinet really depends on the risk of it being stolen, or vandalised in the area it is being placed.

Some organisations may find that insurers will not cover the cost of the device in the event of theft or vandalism if it is not secured with a coded lock, although entering a code into a cabinet undoubtedly delays accessing the device by a few seconds.

Most organisations who install Locked Outdoor Cabinets work on the ethos of "we would rather it there than not at all", mainly if the funds have been raised by a group that is unlikely to be in a position to fund a replacement should it become stolen. Systems such as 'The Circuit' - The National Defibrillator Database, now provide a rather seamless system for Ambulance Services to see the nearest Defibrillator during a 999 call and provide the access code at the time of the call.

However, unlocked cabinets undoubtedly provide quicker access to the defibrillator when every second counts. The Resuscitation Council UK published a consensus statement on AED Cabinets and whether they should be Locked or Unlocked, which should definitely be consulted before deciding which variant you choose to house your new expensive defibrillator.

Need More Help?

MedUK Group Ltd specialises in Public Access Defibrillation and provides free advice or support to any organisation looking to invest in a Defibrillator or Cabinet. We offer advice, technical support, guidance and help free of charge. Our team I happy to support any existing defibrillators or cabinets you have, regardless if you chose us or not to purchase from! Contact the team today here.


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