About defibrillators


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.

If you come across someone who has had a cardiac arrest, it’s vital to call 999 and start CPR. Then you should find out if there is a defibrillator nearby. 

There are many defibrillators available in public places such as train stations, shopping centres, airport and leisure centres. These defibrillators are often known as public access defibrillators (PAD) as anyone can use them in an emergency. You shouldn’t be afraid of using a defibrillator if someone has had a cardiac arrest.

If you’re thinking about getting a defibrillator we recommend that you talk to your local NHS ambulance service first. It’s really important that the ambulance service knows about your defibrillator so 999 operators can quickly identify a nearby device in future emergencies. They might also be able to provide advice about where exactly to place the defibrillator and which kind to buy.

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

Learn CPR with our Heartstart courses

Heartstart courses teach you CPR and other emergency life saving skills. They are free to attend.

There are over 1,700 Heartstart schemes across the UK supported by the BHF.

Visit our Heartstart courses page to find out more and what's available locally.