Over 30,000 people suffer from a cardiac arrest outside of a hospital in the UK each year but there is currently no legislation that obliges certain businesses or premises to provide Automated External Defibrillators (AED). Whilst no formal legislation is in place, there can be a liability in negligence for businesses failing to take appropriate safety precautions.
What’s the law?
A defibrillator is a portable, electronic device that automatically diagnoses and treats life threatening cardiac arrhythmias, allowing the heart to re-establish an effective rhythm. Cardiac arrest is different from a heart attack. The heart suffers an electrical malfunction, which causes it to beat irregularly and casualties become unconscious and lose a pulse within seconds and can die within minutes unless they receive treatment. The UK is far behind other countries in terms of defibrillator legislation, for example, in the USA it is mandatory to have defibrillators in all public places. Petitions are being raised asking the government to bring in legislation to get defibrillators into public buildings in the UK, with several charities also working to raise the funds to make this happen.
Why should I have a defibrillator?
Surviving an out-of-hospital sudden cardiac arrest is closely linked to how quickly a shock can be delivered. For every minute that passes without defibrillation, chances of survival decrease by 14 per cent. Research shows that applying a controlled shock within five minutes of collapse provides the best possible chances of survival. A defibrillator in any workplace, especially where there is a regular influx of people, could help save lives. It is not only older people, but younger, seemingly fit athletes who can suffer cardiac arrests, with the Fabrice Muamba incident bringing the issue to the public’s mind.
Arco offers a wide variety of defibrillators to suit each type of business. Whilst there are sophisticated defibrillators used by the emergency services that require training before they can be used, there are several defibrillators available that include all the critical features but have been designed so that they can be used by non-medical personnel. The defibrillators will make an assessment on whether a shock is required, ensuring that the correct medical assistance is administered at the correct time.
There are three different defibrillators available through Arco from Defibtech. The Defibtech Lifeline® AED is a semi-automated defibrillator and has been designed to be used by non-medically trained staff. It assesses the hearts rhythm and alerts the user when a shock should be delivered.
Also available is the semi-automated Defibtech Lifeline® VIEW, which is the only defibrillator with a full colour interactive display. It provides clear guidance for using and maintaining the device, including step-by-step videos on performing CPR, rescue breathing and external defibrillation.
Fully-automated debrillators are also available, such as the Defibtech Lifeline® AUTO, which charges and delivers the shock by itself after assessing that this is the appropriate action without the user having to press the shock button.
Also available are defibrillators from St John Ambulance, such as the Powerheart® AED G3 Plus defibrillator. The Powerheart® G3 is one of the most popular defibrillators and offers simple operating procedures for anyone to use. This defibrillator has clear and concise voice prompts to guide the user. It features a text screen, which is helpful in noisy environments and a metronome to help with frequency of chest compressions.
For further information, options and purchasing advice on the different types of defibrillators available, please call your local Arco branch, visit the Arco website, www.arco.co.uk or visit any of the 40 Arco trade counters across the UK.