Do you need a defibrillator in your workplace?

Let’s start with some bare facts. (Source: BHF)

  • Around 30,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests occur every year in the UK
  • Sudden cardiac arrest can happen to anybody, regardless of age, gender or background
  • Less than 1 in 10 people survive a sudden cardiac arrest
  • CPR (Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation) alone can double their chance of survival
  • Using an AED (Automated External Defibrillator) in the minutes following an arrest can increase the chances of survival from around 5% to 75%

A sudden cardiac arrest could affect any one of your employees, or any members of the public visiting your site, although risk factors increase with age, stress levels, obesity and smoking or drug use. CPR is an important part of responding quickly but depends on there being someone trained in first aid on hand immediately. Timely use of a defibrillator not only increases the chances of survival massively but also does not necessarily need to have someone trained to use it – the device will talk the user through the process clearly and safely.

There is no current legal requirement to have a defibrillator in your workplace. However, every minute’s delay in using CPR and a defibrillator following an arrest decreases the chance of survival by 10%. With the current NHS crisis and strikes within the ambulance service, wait times are increasingly much too long to rely on an ambulance or a paramedic for the necessary equipment. This is exacerbated if your workplace is remote or difficult to access. Having a defibrillator on site will make a huge difference to the protection you can offer your employees.

What do you need to consider when buying a defibrillator?

Cabinet:

The AED should be stored in a specific unlocked cabinet for easy access. The cabinet will protect the AED and ensure it is dry and dust free as well as making it easier to find in a hurry. AEDs may also be affected by cold conditions – the lithium batteries drain faster, may malfunction at extreme temperatures and the pads can freeze – and so a thermostatically controlled cabinet may be desirable. Modern AED cabinets such as the Rotaid can also form part of a wireless network which will notify pre-ordained first responders as soon as it is opened.

Power:

Batteries will need to be replaced – for the AEDs offered by Anchor Safety replacements are recommended every 4 years. An AED does not require a power source as they are usually powered by Lithium batteries, however the cabinet may need a power source for other reasons, such as heating and wireless connections.

Maintenance:

Most defibrillators self-test on a regular basis and signal with a flashing light or audible alert if there is a problem. Batteries and pads should be replaced before expiry dates and so it is a good idea to record these in a checklist. If the defibrillator is used the pads will have to be replaced and the battery re-charged.

Training:

Although an AED can be used by anyone, as the process is clearly explained both verbally and in diagram form, it is a good idea to train people in how to use it. This will ensure familiarity when the situation is real and stress levels are high. Online training is offered by many sources, (see our blog on Knowing how to use a defibrillator) but for more in-depth training it is useful to bring specialists on-site to offer face to face teaching.


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