Join BHF “The Circuit – the national defibrillator network”

Defibrillators are medical devices which can deliver an electric shock to treat life-threatening arrhythmias which can cause sudden cardiac arrest (also referred to as out-of-hospital cardiac arrest). Ventricular fibrillation (VF) is the major treatable cause of a sudden cardiac arrest. In VF the normal rhythm of the heart is disrupted and replaced with disorganised electrical activity. This means the heart cannot pump effectively and results in rapid fall in cardiac output, loss of consciousness and sudden death if an organised rhythm is not restored very quickly (<10 minutes).

Image of the Circuit

The sooner this can be done, the higher the chance that the patient will survive and make a full recovery. In this scenario, time is critical and waiting for an ambulance to arrive before giving treatment will reduce the patients chances of survival, which falls by 10% every minute. At present, only a small proportion of patients experiencing out-of-hospital cardiac arrest are defibrillated before the ambulance arrives.

Automated external defibrillators (AEDs) are designed to allow untrained bystanders to deliver potentially life-saving treatment in the event that someone has a cardiac arrest. These are found in many workplaces and in busy public places such as sports stadiums, shopping centres, airports and schools. Once the AED is connected to the patient, using the pads provided, the AED will automatically analyse the patient’s heart rhythm and advise verbaly whether a shock is required. They are safe and easy to use and are life-saving for many victims of sudden cardiac arrest.

There is an AED in SCMH, which was recently used to help a member of the public who collapsed nearby. AED is located in SCMH, Level 2 just after the 2nd entrance beside the main door. It is registered with the ambulance service as part of a BHF initiative called ‘The Circuit’ designed to increase appropriate use of AEDs and improve survival for victims of cardiac arrest. If you need information or are interested in getting CPR training, you can apply here.

Image of a Defibrilator

In all cases of suspected cardiac arrest, it is important to ensure that the emergency services are alterted (by calling 999) and where cardiac arrest is confirmed that bystander cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is initiated. These are the first two steps in the ‘Chain of Survival’ and come before an AED is applied. If you call 999 the operator will let you know if there is an AED nearby.




First published: 26 February 2020