Using a defibrillator (AED)
An AED (automated external defibrillator) is a device that gives
the heart an electric shock when someone’s heart has stopped
You can use an AED on children over one year old and adults.
Ambulances have them on board, but using an AED in the minutes
before an ambulance arrives can double someone’s chances of
survival. So it is up to bystanders quickly to find the nearest
Where can I find a defibrillator (AED)?
Many public places keep an AED as part of their first aid
equipment, including shopping centres, train stations, airports,
offices and schools. AEDs come in a small portable plastic box and
are stored in noticeable green casing with a green sign above.
If you don’t have access to an AED then you should call 999 or
112 for help and do ordinary resuscitation
(CPR) until the ambulance and AED arrives.
Poster download: How
to use a defibrillator
Watch our video - how to use a defibrillator/ AED
How do I use a defibrillator/AED?
You can use an AED with no training. The machine analyses
someone’s heart rhythm and then uses visual or voice prompts to
guide you through each step.
• First, make sure someone has called for an ambulance,
and, if an AED isn’t immediately available, give CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) until
someone can bring you an AED.
• As soon as you’ve got an AED, switch it on. It will
immediately start to give you a series of visual and verbal prompts
informing you of what you need to do. Follow these prompts until
the ambulance arrives or someone with more experience than you
• Take the pads out of the sealed pack. Remove or cut
through any clothing and wipe away any sweat from the chest
• Remove the backing paper and attach the pads to their
• Place the first pad on their upper right side, just below
their collarbone as shown on the pad
• Then place the second pad on their left side, just below
the armpit. Make sure you position the pad lengthways, with the
long side in line with the length of the their body
• Once you’ve done this, the AED will start checking the
heart rhythm. Make sure that no-one is touching the person.
Continue to follow the voice and/or visual prompts that the machine
gives you until help arrives.
Adults - AED positions
Child - AED positions