Public Access Defibrillators

Public Access Defibrillators are increasing in availability and really do save lives. For the second time this May I took part in the Buxton Spring Fair. It was a great day with lots of stalls and visitors. There was also lots of live music in various different venues too.

Boy teaching girl how to use a public access defibrillator

Learning to use an AED

I took part last year but I noticed a big difference in awareness around Public access defibrillators also known as PADs.  The PADs that are designed for public use are an AED which is an Automated External Defibrillator. As the name suggests it’s automated so requires very little skill to use it. My friend took this picture last year and it demonstrates how easy they are to use.

The increased publicity and campaigning by Fabrice Muamba and charities such as the OK Foundation have really helped to raise their profile.  The OK Foundation has been campaigning to get defibrillators into schools and the government have now announced that they will help schools to purchase defibrillators.  There are also pledges by companies such as Asda who have pledged to put a public access defibrillator in every store by the end of the year.  There are success stories in the media like Simon Walker who was successfully resuscitated in his dental practice.  All of these campaigns and stories help to raise the profile of these life saving pieces of equipment.

Public access defibrillators are just that, they are for the public to access.  They’re very easy to use and give clear instructions on what to do and if you follow these instructions you can’t make anything worse.  They will not charge and deliver a shock if the person doesn’t need it, which is what makes them so safe.

So how do you use one?

There are various types of AED in the market. I’ve shown 2 below, the Heartsine 500P and the Cardiac Science G3.

Heartsine Public Access Defibrillator

Heartsine AED

Cardiac Science G3 Public Access Defibrillator

Cardiac Science AED







Clip fastening on Cardiac Science G3 case

Clip fastening on Cardiac Science G3 case

Some AEDs have an outer case as in the G3. If there is an outer case there will be a way to open the case – often Velcro or clips.






close up of on/off button on Heartsine public access defibrillator

Green On/Off button on Heartsine AED

Some don’t have an outside case therefore you’re looking for the ‘on’ button or ‘catch’ to open the machine. Then turn it on.

Once you’ve turned it on it will begin to speak to you; it will give slow and clear instructions.

They’ll start with a reminder to make sure that help has been called and ask you to apply the pads to the person’s chest, in order to do this clothing must be removed. Clothing may need to be cut or torn and this includes underwear.


Diagram showing AED pad placement, below right collar bone and lower left side of chest

AED Pad Placement

The pads need to be placed in the correct position, to help you there will be pictures on the pads.  The first goes on the right side below the collar bone and the second goes on the left side on the ribs in line with the arm pit.  Don’t worry about remembering as there are pictures and instructions to remind you.

Once the pads have been applied the AED will move onto analysis.  The AED will analyse the heart rhythm and determine if a ‘shock’ is required.  Not everyone in Cardiac Arrest will need a shock.





close up of shock button on Heartsine AED

Orange shock button on Heartsine AED

Some AEDs need you to press the ‘shock’ button as on the Heartsine model, shown by the orange heart, some will give a warning and deliver the shock automatically.  If you need to deliver the shock once charged the button will flash and you’ll be instructed to press the orange button, do so without delay whilst ensuring yourself and all other bystanders are not touching the patient and “standing clear”.




Once the shock has been delivered you then begin CPR as per resuscitation council guidelines.  The AED then times 2 minutes, during this time we do CPR continuously. Often there is a metronome that will help you do compressions at the right rate. At the end of the 2 minutes the AED will once again move to analysis and the process is repeated.  You continue until your help arrives and is ready to take over.


Interested in finding out more?

You can access training for AEDs as a professional or as a lay person.  However, not having had training or your training being out of date should not deter you from using it if you are the only person available.

Further information on using an AED can also be found in the Resuscitation Council’s Lifesaver app.  This is an informative interactive game which has won several awards.

Please contact us if you would like any further information.