3The automatic external defibrillator (AED) is a medical device that can quickly and easily be deployed to save the life of a person suffering from cardiac arrest. Relatively new, AEDs are beginning to show up in public places all around the country. Business and property owners alike are coming to realise that there really is no good reason to not have an AED on site.

How much do you know about AEDs? If your knowledge is limited, rest assured that you are not alone. Still, do not take any comfort in that, as every UK citizen should be familiar with the AED. Here are five reasons that explain why, compliments of the Association of Ambulance Chief Executives (AACE):

1. Cardiac Arrest Leads to Death

The most important reason to familiarise yourself with the AED is the simple fact that cardiac arrest leads to death. In fact, it is a leading cause of premature death in the UK. The key to surviving a cardiac arrest event is getting the heart’s normal rhythm restored as quickly as possible. That is the whole point of deploying an AED.

An AED automatically monitors the patient’s heart rhythm. When necessary, it delivers short bursts of electrical shock to restart the heart. Those electrical shocks often mean the difference between life and death.

As a side note, many people confuse cardiac arrest with a heart attack. They are not the same thing despite so many people using the phrases interchangeably. A heart attack occurs when blood flow to the heart is restricted or cut off. Cardiac arrest occurs when the heart stops beating. Note that heart attack often leads to cardiac arrest.

2. AEDs Save Lives

The AACE explains that “many people who collapse with a cardiac arrest can be saved” if bystanders recognise what is happening and know what to do. A bystander who recognises cardiac arrest and knows how to deploy an AED can truly make a difference.

Note that an AED is not intended to guarantee patient survival on its own. It is just one tool among a few others. Bystanders capable of recognising cardiac arrest should also find a way to notify emergency services right away as well as administer cardiopulmonary resuscitation. An AED is deployed to restart a stopped heart and keep it beating.

3. AEDs Can Be Used by Anyone

The next reason every UK citizen should be familiar with AEDs is that these are simple enough to be used by anyone. A typical AED includes instructions with both written text and detailed illustrations. If you can read and follow instructions, you can safely deploy an AED in less than a minute.

Also, note that UK law places no training restrictions on the use of AEDs. You do not need to be a trained first responder to assist a cardiac arrest patient with an AED. You do not have to work for an ambulance service or the British Red Cross. You only need to be capable of reading and following instructions.

Of course, deploying an AED requires knowing where to find one. Ask your supervisor at work if your company has an AED and, if so, where it is located. At those public places you frequent, look around. Ask management about an AED if you do not see one readily available.

4. They Are Popping up in More Places

Next, AEDs are popping up in more public places as time goes by. According to health and safety equipment provider Seton, property and business owners are purchasing the devices from the www.seton.co.uk website – for the benefit of both employees and visitors.

Seton advises all business owners to procure at least one AED to be kept on site. Larger employers with larger sites and multi-site operations should consider obtaining enough devices to adequately cover their workspaces. The devices are very affordable, compact, and easy to use, so there is no good reason not to have them in the workplace.

5. You May Be the Patient

Last but not least, you might someday be the patient in need of a life-saving treatment the AED affords. In the event of cardiac arrest, would you appreciate that a bystander was familiar with the AED and was able to deploy it on your behalf? Of course you would.

The fact is that none of us know what the future holds. Anyone of us could head out the door feeling great at the start of the day only to find ourselves facing cardiac arrest by evening. Your knowledge of the AED could save someone’s life today. Someone else’s knowledge could save your life tomorrow. You never know.

AEDs are incredibly effective devices that save lives. The more popular they become, the more routine it will be to find one in a public space. How much do you know about AEDs and how to use them? Do yourself and your community a favour by familiarising yourself with them. You could end up saving a life.