A defibrillator is a life-saving machine
that gives the heart an electric shock in some cases of cardiac
arrest. This is called defibrillation and can save lives.
Cardiac arrest is when the heart stops pumping blood around the
body. When someone has a cardiac arrest, defibrillation needs
to be prompt.
For every minute that passes without defibrillation chances
of survival decrease by 14 per cent. Research shows that applying a
controlled shock within five minutes of collapse provides the best
possible chances of survival.
Getting defibrillators into the right places
Defibrillators, also known as automated external defibrillators
(AEDs), need to be placed strategically – in areas where
there is a high incidence of cardiac
arrest and where it's difficult for an ambulance to get
More than 6,000 defibrillators have already
been placed in the community since we started donating them in
Rural areas, communities with poor road networks
or traffic congestion, and where large crowds gather are all
places where we need defibrillators the most.
It’s very easy to use an
AED. The rescuer turns the machine on which then gives
voice prompts, telling the rescuer what to do. The rescuer will be
asked to put pads into position on the person’s chest. These
pads detect electrical activity in the heart and will be able to
tell if a shock is needed.
Anyone can use an AED, but it's preferable
that people receive training first. It would be better if more
people were trained in CPR, which buys time before defibrillation.
Research shows that GP
surgeries equipped with defibrillators can improve survival by up
to 60 per cent if the patient is treated immediately or soon
after entering cardiac arrest.
How a BHF defibrillator saved Gary's life
Gary Humphries, 54, from Caerphilly, owes
his life to staff at his local leisure centre.
Gary suffered a massive heart attack
and went into cardiac arrest whilst playing squash at Hawthorn
Leisure Centre in Treforest, Rhondda Cynon Taf.
He would have died if the
centre had not had a defibrillator funded by us Two
members of staff, Anthony Blackburn and John Hancock, had recently
been trained how to use the equipment by Tony Rossetti, a
BHF-funded community defibrillation officer. It was the first
time they had needed to put their training into practice.
Anthony and John were at the scene within a
minute and applied a shock from the defibrillator within two
minutes. The shock revived Gary, who had been clinically dead for
those two minutes. There is no doubt their speedy response saved
I wouldn't be here today if it wasn't for their quick response and skills and the fact there was a defibrillator in that leisure centre.
Gary's father died from
a heart attack aged 46, and his grandmother died from a heart
attack aged 59. Gary had been on medication for high cholesterol
since his father died, but played
sport and tried to eat healthily. He stopped smoking many years
After his cardiac arrest, it took five days
before Gary came around. He underwent angioplasty surgery and had a stent fitted to
improve his blood flow through his narrowed arteries. He is now
taking beta blockers, statins and other
drugs and has returned to work as a material controller for Rolls
Gary says: "I owe Anthony and John my life. I
didn't even know what a defibrillator was before that day
- I certainly do now!"
Gary is now campaigning for more
defibrillators to be made available in public places, particularly
in Wales, and he is determined to become a First Responder for
his area so that he can help save other heart attack victims'
He added: "I don't feel at all impaired now
and I have probably come out of this a stronger person. Whatever I
can do to make a difference, I will do, however small a difference