Defibrillators

CHT Yellow box imageIn June 2012 Sunningwell Parish Council installed a defibrillator in the old BT telephone box near the pond in Sunningwell.

In February 2014 a joint effort between the Boars Hill Association, the Oxford Beaumont Care Home and the Parish Council resulted in another defibrillator being positioned outside the entrance porch of the Barchester – Oxford Beaumont Care Home in Bayworth Lane, Boars Hill.

Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) is a condition in which the heart stops beating suddenly and unexpectedly due to a malfunction in the heart’s electrical system.  The resulting chaotic heart rhythm is called “fibrillation”. During SCA a victim first loses his or her pulse, then consciousness and finally the ability to breathe. All of this can happen quickly – in fact, in a matter of seconds…

An Automated External Defibrillator (AED) is an emergency portable life-saving device (similar in size to a laptop computer) for use in the event of Sudden Cardiac Arrest. It analyses the heart rhythm and, if needed, administers an electrical charge to the heart to re-establish a regular heartbeat in the event of a Cardiac Arrest.

Only within the first few minutes following a Cardiac Arrest will a victim be in a ‘shockable rhythm’, and therefore rapid defibrillation is vital.  Placing AEDs in the community is widely recommended by the emergency services to reduce the time from collapse to defibrillation.

When turned on, the AED itself will instruct the users to connect the pads to a patient’s bare chest. The pads enable the AED to examine the patient’s heart and determine if the patient is in a viable, shockable rhythm. If the device determines that a shock is required, it will charge up in preparation to deliver a shock. The AED is very safe as it will only deliver a charge when it determines a shockable rhythm is present.

When charged, the device instructs the user to ensure no-one is touching the victim and the AED unit will advise the user that it will deliver the shock without further intervention. After the shock is delivered, the device will instruct the user to commence/continue CPR (Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation) for a period, after which it will analyse the patient’s heart rhythm once again, advising whether a further shock or more CPR is needed.

An AED has an internal memory, which stores the ECG of the patient along with details of the time the unit was activated and the number and strength of any shocks delivered. All this memorised data can either be downloaded to a computer or printed out, so that it can be analysed by appropriate medical personnel.

Who can use an AED?

It is the view of the Resuscitation Council (UK) that the use of an AED is NOT to be restricted to trained personnel. Chances of survival increase, however, if the person has had some training in its use. For this reason, public awareness seminars were held after each defibrillator was installed.

AEDs have visual and voice prompts which guide the resuscitator through the defibrillation process. The device is failsafe and will not administer a shock unless a particular heartbeat is detected.
The “Chain of Survival” represents the sequence of events/links that must occur quickly to give the patient the optimum chance of surviving a Sudden Cardiac Arrest. Time is critical – you only have a matter of minutes to restart the heart.

The four links of the Chain of Survival are:

  1. Early access to care – dial 999 immediately! They will give you the code # for the yellow box containing the AED.
  2. Early Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) – provide CPR to help maintain blood flow to the brain until the arrival of defibrillation.
  3. Early defibrillation – defibrillation is the only way to restart a heart in cardiac arrest.
  4. Early advance care – after defibrillation, upon arrival an emergency team provides advanced cardiac care on scene, such as intravenous medications.

Quick action by the first person on the scene can truly make a difference in saving a life.

Individuals may be concerned about personal liability in taking action but Community Heartbeat Trust say no-one will ever be charged for trying to save a life. Also, as soon as the ambulance has been called, the individual will be acting under direction and will be covered by NHS insurance. The equipment is fully computerised and the individual does not make the decision about whether the equipment delivers a shock or not.