Defibrillators often remind people of watching medical dramas such as Casualty or ER – the patient stops breathing and as the tension mounts, nurses or doctors place paddles onto the chest and administer an electric shock which makes the patient bounce vertically in the air. Because of these memories, most people are wary of defibrillators, yet they are critical to the survival of someone experiencing cardiac arrest.
Defibrillators are life-saving devices which have recently crossed over from being specialist medical systems only found in a hospital, to be widely available in public spaces such as shopping centres, disused phone boxes and village halls. They aren’t as scary as most people think and are so easy to use, even a child can follow the instructions, but when should you use one? How much do you think you know about defibrillators? Do you know enough to save a life under pressure? Before you read this post, why not take our quiz and find out?
Myth Number 1: A defibrillator should be used when someone has a heart attack
There is a large difference between a patient suffering a heart attack and someone who has entered into cardiac arrest. A heart attack is when the heart is still beating but a blocked or clogged artery restricts blood flow back to the heart. Although a heart attack can sometimes lead to cardiac arrest, SCA (Sudden Cardiac Arrest) can be much, much worse. SCA is when the electrical function of the heart is interrupted and the heart begins to flutter, or even stops, rendering it unable to pump blood around the body. CPR and a shock from a defibrillator are the only way to help a person who is suffering from SCA.
Myth Number 2: A defibrillator should only be used on people over the age of 16
Although rare, SCA can happen to children and young adults, with around 12 people under the age of 35 dying each week from undiagnosed cardiac conditions. Technically speaking, AEDs can be used on children as young as 1. Many defibrillators have the option to change the amount of energy passed on through the ‘shock’ and most come with smaller pads for children. Martek Lifecare offers full training and specialist systems if you are thinking of having a defibrillator in your school or club.
Myth Number 3: You Need Special Medical Training to Use a Defibrillator
AEDs (Automated External Defibrillators) have come a long way since George Clooney rose to fame in ER in the 90s. They are now highly portable and come with easy to follow verbal and visual instructions to make sure that anyone can administer help if someone goes into cardiac arrest outside of a medical environment.
In the event that someone’s heart starts beating erratically, missing beats or stops completely, you should administer CPR as soon as possible. Don’t wait for them to stop breathing! If you are alone, continue CPR and wait for assistance and then send the other person to call an ambulance and fetch a defibrillator if available. For every minute someone suffering from SCA goes without CPR and defibrillation, their chances of survival drop by 10%. It takes the average ambulance 11 minutes to arrive so every second counts.
Less than 5% of people who suffer from cardiac arrest survive without CPR, yet combined use of CPR and an AED raise the survival rate to 70%. So, given all, you now know…could you save a life under pressure?
You can help protect your loved ones, your customers, your students, or your colleagues simply by having an on-site Automated External Defibrillator. Martek Lifecare offers AEDs which have been proven to be easy to use, allowing people with little to no medical training to save a life on the spot. We also offer exceptional training in Emergency First Aid at Work, just get in touch to find out more.