Automated External Defibrillators

The benefits of automated external defibrillators

This week was all about AEDs - automated external defibrillators, [not to be confused with IED’s]. They are proven life savers for heart attack victims, particularly when used in conjunction with hands-only cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

We were visited by Dave Jones, a ‘community defibrillation trainer’ employed by Yorkshire Ambulance. We hope to buy and install one or two public access AEDs for the benefit of the residents of Roundhay, and Dave came to show us an AED and explain how it works.

The devices are housed in a box on an external wall in a public place. They are easy to use: once out of its box, press the start button, listen to the clear spoken instructions [with American accent on the one we saw] and stick two pads on each side of the chest of the suspected heart attack victim and watch it go to work. Once in position, the defibrillator detects the heart’s rhythm. It won’t deliver a shock unless one is needed. The shock is designed to stop a fibrillating heart and enable it to restart with normal rhythm.

The idea of having AEDs accessible in public places is relatively new, but is really catching on. Dave told us that in January 2014 the Yorkshire Ambulance charity purchased 15 devices to install in public places. Dave is now responsible for keeping tabs on 500 of them. They need to be in places with high footfall: there’s one on every platform of Leeds railway station, and there are 9 at Leeds Bradford airport. On average, 5 of Dave’s devices are accessed each week. Lives are being saved as a result. Dave also told us there’s one at the top of the Eiffel Tower and another on the rock of Gibraltar. Geeks collect selfies with AEDs in unlikely places.

What the club needs to do now is to find public spaces where AEDs can be put, and persuade the building owners to let us install them. Their batteries last 4 years and the pads last 2 years, but they need an external power supply to keep them warm when the temperature falls below 10 C. The cost of heating an AED for a year is however only £4.00. The whole package for one AED will cost the club £1,699 at current prices, but that includes an ‘awareness session’ for people in the vicinity of the device when installed.

Worth it for saving lives – although we need to educate ourselves about the other half of the life saving operation, CPR. Dave reassured us that it’s the pressing on the chest that works, and blowing into a stranger’s mouth is not required. CPR is energetic stuff though – we heard there’s an instructional video of Vinnie Jones doing it to the soundtrack of Staying Alive

Instruction for CPR

•Place the heel of your hand on the breastbone at the centre of the person’s chest. Place your other hand on top of your first hand and interlock your fingers.

•Position yourself with your shoulders above your hands.

•Using your body weight (not just your arms), press straight down by 5-6cm (2-2.5 inches) on their chest.

•Keeping your hands on their chest, release the compression and allow the chest to return to its original position.

•Repeat these compressions at a rate of 100 to 120 times per minute until an ambulance arrives or you become exhausted.