How can I recognise a defibrillator?
Where can I find my nearest defibrillator?
What if the defibrillator is in a locked cabinet?
Is it a legal requirement to have a defibrillator at my workplace?
There is no legal requirement for you to have a defibrillator in your workplace, but your risk assessment might identify that there is a need for one. They are especially important if your workplace is remote, or if there could be a significant delay in the ambulance service getting to the casualty.
Having an on-site defibrillator is also valuable if:
- you have an ageing work force
- there has been a history of cardiac conditions in the work force
- your workplace is frequently visited by large numbers of the general public, such as a supermarket.
If you are considering buying a defibrillator, read our defibrillator buying guide.
Do you have to be trained to use a defibrillator?
No – the defibrillator will guide you through what to do with simple voice instructions and visual prompts. However, we would encourage everyone to take defibrillator training to ensure they are familiar with the device and ready to act confidently in an emergency.
Anyone can safely use a defibrillator. Do not wait for the emergency services to arrive to start treating the casualty.
Are defibrillators easy to use?
Yes - All makes of defibrillator will provide voice instructions or visual prompts instructing you what to do, from performing CPR to attaching the pads.
All defibrillators check the heart rhythm of the person to determine if a shock needs to be administered. If it is an automatic defibrillator, a shock will be delivered automatically. If it is a semi-automatic defibrillator, the voice instructions will prompt you to push a button to deliver a shock.
Any defibrillator can be used by anyone with no training. However, taking defibrillator training will increase your confidence to be ready to act in an emergency.
Do I still need to do CPR if I use a defibrillator?
Yes. The defibrillator will indicate when to start and stop CPR, and guide you through how to do CPR.
It is best to learn CPR in advance, so you know exactly what to do. Learn from our CPR how-to guide or take a training course.
Important: do not touch the casualty when the defibrillator administers a shock.
Can you hurt someone by using a defibrillator?
Can defibrillators be used on children?
Yes, standard defibrillator pads are suitable for use on children over the age of eight.
For children aged between one and eight years, use a paediatric defibrillator or standard defibrillator with paediatric pads. The paediatric pads adjust the current delivered during defibrillation. In an emergency, if a defibrillator with adult pads is the only device available, then it can be used.
Never use a defibrillator on infants under the age of one.
Can defibrillators be used on pregnant women?
What if the casualty has a pacemaker or implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD)?
What about medication patches?
Can a defibrillator be used if it is wet or raining?
Will I need to remove the casualty’s clothes?
Do I have to shave the casualty’s chest?
What’s the difference between an automatic and semi-automatic defibrillator?
An automatic defibrillator will deliver a shock automatically. Semi-automatic defibrillators require the rescuer to push a button to deliver a shock.
Some defibrillators have a manual override, which allows the user to initiate a charge and shock without first analysing the heart rhythm. These defibrillators are typically used by emergency responders, paramedics, and advanced life support professionals.
Is there a memory chip inside the defibrillator and if so what does it record?
Defibrillators will record when they are used on a memory chip/module. The information collected is:
- the heart rhythm at the time the pads were placed on the chest,
- if the patient was shocked and the result of the shock being delivered.
This information may be downloaded following the event. This is used by relevant bodies, as part of their research programmes and for statistical evidence of the effectiveness of defibrillators.
How to use a defibrillator
By using a defibrillator before an ambulance arrives, you can significantly increase someone’s chance of survival. Learn what to do.
Guide to defibrillator maintenance and upkeep
If you are responsible for the upkeep of a defibrillator in your workplace or community, read our guide for answers to frequently asked questions.
How to do the primary survey
Use the primary survey to quickly assess the situation and check the casualty for injuries or conditions that could be immediately life threatening. Find out what to do.