How to increase a casualties survival rate from 6% to 74% with this one vital piece of knowledge. Why everyone needs to know how to use a defibrillator.

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I have a question. Let me set the scene. Someone drops down to the ground in front of you, a bystander checks to see if they’re breathing, they’re not! The bystander starts CPR. You know there is a defib close by but you’ve not been trained and have no clue how to use it – do you go and get it? maybe even use it!?

I bet a lot of you just thought “no chance”. I bet when you think of a defib you think of dramatic tv scenes- ER, Casualty, Greys Anatomy anyone? These amazing, life saving pieces of equipment unfortunately have a stigma attached to them. People are worried they might do more harm than good so shy away. In fact, three quarters of people said they wouldn’t feel confident enough to act if they saw someone having a cardiac arrest. This has to change. Let me make this clear – you cannot hurt anyone using one. Hook it up to someone who’s heart is beating normally, it will analysis the heart rhythm is fine so won’t shock. It will only shock someone who needs it. Not so scary now is it? So now you’re hopefully thinking ok I’ll give it a shot, but what do I do? These devices come in all different shapes and forms but effectively they all have 2 buttons – an on/off button and a shock button. Easy. Once you’ve turned it on this device’s audio cues will talk you through exactly what to do from plugging in the pads to delivering the shock, the shock button even flashes when you have to press it. Honestly, it’s fool proof. There is even diagrams on the pads showing you exactly where to attach them to the casualties’ body.

Ironically what a defib does it stops the heart. Has your computer or phone ever stuffed up? What’s your first port of call to fix it? Turn it off then on again? Yup, you got it. That’s exactly what a defib does to the heart. The casualty’s heart is quivering and not beating normally. The shock delivered stops the heart to allow it to reset and kick back into its normal rhythm.

Here’s some stats from the British Heart Foundation, “There are more than 30,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests in the UK each year. The overall survival rate in the UK is less than 1 in 10. Every minute without CPR and defibrillation reduces the chance of survival by up to 10 per cent.  Performing CPR can more than double the chances of survival in some cases.”

If a defibrillator is used within 3-5 minutes of cardiac arrest, survival rates jump from 6 per cent to 74 per cent

Luckily people are starting to realise just how valuable it is to have these pieces of equipment in the community. They’re popping up everywhere. Gyms, banks, supermarkets, high streets to name a few. They’re also now more affordable with the lower end ones coming in at around £300. It’s truly incredible how many we now have access too. Now all we have to do is raise awareness so people realise how safe and effective they are.

So now you have read this let me ask that same question again. Would you go and get the defib and attempt to use it? I hope everyone can now confidently answer yes. A defib will only work to its full potential with effective CPR. For any first aid training in Scotland please contact us at info@firststopsafetytraining.co.uk .

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