A defibrillator is a device that gives a high energy electric shock to the heart through the chest wall to someone who is in cardiac arrest. This high energy shock is called defibrillation, and it’s an essential life saving step in the chain of survival.
Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA)
SCA is a leading cause of premature death, but with immediate treatment many lives can be saved. SCA occurs because the electrical rhythm that controls the heart is replaced by a chaotic disorganised electrical rhythm called ventricular fibrillation (VF). The quicker VF can be treated by defibrillation the greater the chance of successful resuscitation. Seconds count, and the ambulance service is unlikely to arrive quickly enough to resuscitate most victims.
Note: AEDs are not very common in Pakistan and also not publicly installed.
Chain of Survival
Many SCA victims can be saved if persons nearby recognise what has happened, summon the ambulance service with the minimum of delay, perform basic cardiopulmonary resuscitation (particularly chest compressions) and use an AED to provide a high energy electric shock to restore the heart’s normal rhythm. Each of these stages is a link in a chain of events that provide the best chance of success, but the critical factor is the speed with which the shock is given. .
Not Trained to Use AED?
AEDs are easy to use, compact, portable and very effective. They are designed to be used by lay persons; the machines guide the operator through the process by verbal instructions and visual prompts. They are safe and will not allow a shock to be given unless the heart’s rhythm requires it. They are designed to be stored for long periods without use and require very little routine maintenance. Several models are available from the manufacturers or through medical equipment companies. Its not mandatory to have AED training to use it.
How to Use It?
- If you come across someone who is not breathing or breathing erratically, the most important thing is to call EMS and start CPR to keep the blood flowing around the body. After a cardiac arrest, every minute without CPR and defibrillation reduces someone’s chance of survival by 10 per cent.
- If you’re on your own, don’t interrupt the CPR to go and get a defibrillator. If it’s possible, send someone else to find one. When you call EMS, the operator can divert any nearby Bike-Ambulance (only available in Punjab) or ambulance for your help.
- If AED is made available at the scene. All you have to do is open the cover and follow the instructions. Many defibrillators will also have diagrams or a screen to help you. The defibrillator detects the heart’s rhythm, it won’t deliver a shock unless one is needed.
- Often you’ll need to press the shock button although some fully automatic defibrillators will deliver the shock themselves. You should resume CPR as soon as instructed by the defibrillator.
For Your Safety,
Faisal Javed Mir & First Aid to Save a Life Pakistan