About defibrillators

Defibrillators A high energy electric shock, given to the heart in some types of cardiac arrest, may restore a more stable rhythm. 

This is called defibrillation, and it's an essential lifesaving step in the chain of survival.

Public access defibrillators (PADs) can be found in public spaces like your local shopping centre, gym, train station or village hall. That briefcase-sized box on the wall contains a PAD. It's there for anyone to use on someone in cardiac arrest.

Simple to use

They are simple and safe. The machine gives clear spoken instructions. You don't need training to use one.

Once in position, the defibrillator detects the heart's rhythm. It won't deliver a shock unless one is needed.

Every second counts

After a cardiac arrest, every minute without CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) and defibrillation reduces someone's chance of survival by 10 per cent.

When you call 999, the operator can tell you if there's a public access defibrillator nearby. Don't delay or interrupt chest compressions to get it, send someone else.

If you've installed a defibrillator in your community or workplace, check that your ambulance trust knows about it. That way, 999 operators can quickly identify a nearby device in future emergencies.

How to use a defibrillator

Defibrillators are very easy to use. Although they don’t all look the same, they all function in broadly the same way.

If you come across someone who is not breathing or breathing erratically, the most important thing is to call 999 and start CPR. If you're on your own, don't interrupt the CPR to go and get a defibrillator. When you can, send someone else to find one. Once the defibrillator is open, all you have to do is follow the spoken instructions.

There’s lots more information about obtaining and using defibrillators in the Guide to Defibrillators we produced in conjunction with the Resuscitation Council UK.

Funding for defibrillators

Find out if you could apply for a defibrillator through one of our funding programmes.

Apply for a defibrillator