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For more information on what you need to know when buying and installing a defibrillator, from costs to training and storage, read our Defibrillator guide for first time buyers. For more information about how to look after your defibrillator including pad and battery expiry and replacement, please read our Defibrillator maintenance guide.

Accessing a defibrillator

How can I recognise a defibrillator?

There are different makes of defibrillator, and they come in different shapes and sizes. Defibrillator cabinets are usually labelled with a symbol showing a heart with a lightning bolt. Look for this sign:

AED sign

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?

Using a defibrillator

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?

Do I still need to do CPR if I use a defibrillator?

Can you hurt someone by using a defibrillator?

Different casualty scenarios

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.

There is limited data on the use of defibrillators on children under the age of one, however it is acceptable to do so where there are no other options available. This is because using a defibrillator with adult pads to deliver a shock is better than nothing at all.

When using adult pads on a small child/infant, if the child is so small that placing the pads in the normal position would result in the pads touching, the Top Right pad should be placed in the centre of the chest, and the Bottom Left pad should be placed between the shoulder blades.

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?

Things you may need to do as a rescuer

Will I need to remove the casualty’s clothes?

Any clothing or jewellery that could interfere with the pads should be removed or cut away, as the pads must be attached to bare skin. You will also need to remove clothing containing metal from the area where the pads are attached, such as an underwired bra.

Do I have to shave the casualty’s chest?

Technical questions

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?

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Defibrillator and CPR training

Learn how to operate a defibrillator and how to perform effective CPR to give you the confidence to act quickly and effectively if someone has a cardiac arrest.

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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.