Portable defibrillators, also known as automatic external defibrillators (AEDs), are not as well-known as other components of a First Aid kit – and yet they are the only way to save a life when a sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) occurs. Here are some of the most common myths and misconceptions around these important devices to help empower you to save a life.
Myth #1 -SCAs Don’t Happen Very Often
A portable AED is not a cheap device, so many people think twice before adding one to their workplace or household – after all, isn’t SCA pretty rare?
Incorrect! SCA is one of the leading causes of death in Australia. It is especially concerning because it can happen to anyone, of any age (including children), at any time. Approximately 30,000 people die each year from SCA – more than the number of people who die from cancer or strokes.
Myth #2 – It’s Better to Leave SCA Treatment to Professionals
An SCA instantly cuts off the flow of oxygenated blood to the brain and critical organs, which start to die immediately. For every minute a patient’s heart is arrested, the patient’s chance of survival decreases by 10%. In fact, it is estimated that 95% of SCA patients die before they can get to a hospital. In the time it can take even the fastest ambulance to arrive, a patient can experience critical organ failure.
While professional medical treatment is always the best option, the speed at which an SCA patient deteriorates means that bystanders are the patient’s best chance of survival. This means that you – along with an AED – is the best chance most people have of receiving life-saving treatment.
Myth #3 – Most SCA’s Happen in Hospital
SCAs do often occur in hospitals, usually in patients who have other heart or health conditions. Unfortunately, someone who has an SCA often has little or no symptoms before it occurs. This means that they are usually going about their normal daily routine – shopping for groceries, watching TV at home, working at their desk, etc. when a SCA strikes – so they are far away from a hospital.
Approximately 20,000 SCAs occur out of hospital each year, and only 10% of people survive these – a figure that can be greatly reduced if AEDs are freely and publicly available.
Myth #4 – Defibrillators are Complex and Should Be Used Only by Trained Professionals
There are a few different types of defibrillators, and those used in hospitals should only be used by trained medical staff. However, because so many SCAs occur out of hospital, a simple defibrillator was designed for use by non-professionals – the AED. These devices automate most of the processes, so it’s simple for anyone to use even if you have no First Aid training.
These lightweight, portable defibrillators show you exactly where to place the electrode pads and use voice prompts to tell you exactly what to do, step by step. They use an internal computer to monitor the patient’s heart rhythm and apply a shock to restart the heart – all automatically. As the operator, there is very little you need to do.
Myth #5 – You Can Use an AED for a Heart Attack
A heart attack is a completely different cardiac event than a SCA. A heart attack is caused by a blockage in the artery, while an SCA is when the electrical pulse to the heart causes the heart to go into an abnormal rhythm. Only a shock to the heart can restore heart rhythm and treat an SCA.
In the event of a heart attack, you can place the electrode pads of the AED on the patient and use the system to monitor their heart rhythm.In some cases, a heart attack can trigger SCA, and this will ensure you are ready if this event should occur.
Myth #6 – You Can Be Unintentionally Shocked by an AED
AEDs are run by a computer that analyses the person’s heart rhythm in order to determine whether or not a shock is needed. It will only trigger the shock if the person is in atrial fibrillation, so you cannot get shocked unless you are experiencing SCA.
When treating someone with SCA, the device will use a voice prompt to warn you when the shock will be applied and that you should step away from the patient. As long as you do not have physical contact with the patient, you will not be affected by the shock.
Myth #7 – AEDs are Expensive and Can Only be Used Once
High-quality AEDs are surprisingly affordable and can supply a good number of shocks (some up to hundreds of shocks) before their batteries need replacing. It’s important to use a reputable supplier who can deliver a product from a leading brand, as these are effective and more durable. The batteries will last 3-5 years unused. While quality products are not cheap, they are not as expensive as many people imagine, and are a good investment for a company, school, gym, shopping centre or Body Corporate.
Australia’s Leading Suppliers of Affordable AEDs, Batteries and Kits
DefibsPlus is a leading supplier of affordable, high-quality AEDs in Melbourne, servicing Australia wide, and we are passionate about empowering businesses and communities to prevent unnecessary SCA deaths. In addition to supplying AEDs from leading brands like HeartSine, Mediana and Life Pak, we also supply replacement parts, batteries and storage/signage solutions. Our team will also train you, your family or your team in how to identify an SCA and use an AED to save a life. Contact us today to find out more.