About defibrillators

Defibrillators

A defibrillator is a device that gives a high energy electric shock to the heart of someone who is in cardiac arrest.

This high energy shock is called defibrillation, and it's an essential part in trying to save the life of someone who’s in cardiac arrest. 

Cardiac arrests can happen to anyone, at any time. The following steps give someone the best chance of survival. If you come across someone in cardiac arrest:

  1. Call 999
  2. Start CPR
  3. Ask someone to bring a defibrillator if there’s one nearby
  4. Turn on the defibrillator and follow its instructions.

For more information, read this guide to defibrillators from the Resuscitation Council.

Who can use a defibrillator?

You don’t need to be trained to use a defibrillator – anyone can use it. There are clear instructions on how to attach the defibrillator pads. It then assesses the heart rhythm and will only instruct you to deliver a shock if it’s needed.

In a recent survey, three quarters of people said they wouldn’t feel confident enough to act if they saw someone having a cardiac arrest. With more CPR training and greater awareness, we can change that.

Where can I find a defibrillator?

Defibrillators are normally located in workplaces and public spaces like airports, shopping centres, community centres, and train stations. These defibrillators are known as public access defibrillators (PADs) as anyone can use them.

If you need a defibrillator in an emergency, the 999 call handler will often know where one is and tell you, so you can ask someone to get it. By performing CPR and using a defibrillator, you’ll give someone the best possible chance of survival, but there isn’t always a defibrillator close enough to help save the life of someone having a cardiac arrest.

Why do we need more defibrillators?

To help someone who is in cardiac arrest effectively, a defibrillator needs to be found as quickly as possible. For every minute it takes for the defibrillator to reach someone and deliver a shock, their chances of survival reduce by up to 10%. 

Only 3% of cardiac arrests happen within the recommended retrieval distance of a defibrillator.

Resuscitation Council (UK)

There are lots of ways you can help:

Getting a defibrillator

Having a defibrillator in your workplace or community will help us beat the heartbreak from cardiac arrest.

Apply for part-funding for a public access defibrillator

We’ve part funded thousands of public access defibrillators across the country as part of our commitment to saving lives. If you can demonstrate your area needs a defibrillator, want to make it publicly available at all times, and are willing to organise CPR training, you may be eligible for part funding.

Find out whether you’re eligible.

Buying a defibrillator for your workplace

Having a defibrillator in your workplace can save lives. Many businesses have a defibrillator and provide CPR training to demonstrate their commitment to keeping colleagues safe.

If you’re considering getting a defibrillator for your workplace we have lots of helpful information about writing a business case, arranging CPR training and keeping your defibrillator maintained so it’s ready to respond to a cardiac arrest.

Find out more.

Buying a defibrillator for your community

Lots of villages, parish councils and community groups raise funds to make a defibrillator publicly available to their local community.

If you’re interested in getting a defibrillator we have lots of helpful information about fundraising, where to place your defibrillator, and how to maintain it so it’s always ready to save a life.

Find out more.