What is a Defibrillator and When You Should Use One?


Defibrillators are critical emergency devices that help save lives every day. As a supplier of defibrillators to businesses, schools, public buildings and public spaces, we’re sharing some essential information about what defibrillators are and when you should use one.

What is a Defibrillator?

A defibrillator is an electrical device that, when in use, provides a controlled electrical shock designed to restart the heart. There are plenty of different types of defibrillator, but the most common is the AEDs. Also known as the automated external defibrillator, this device has been designed to be easy to use even if you have had no training. An AED comes in automatic and semi-automatic varieties:

  • Semi-automatic AED: This version will detect the heart rhythm automatically and use a voice and visual prompt to instruct you when to press a button to deliver an electric shock.
  • Automatic AED: This type of defibrillator is even easier to use, automatically monitoring the patient and supplying the controlled shock by itself once you set it up on the patient, with no intervention needed.

AEDs are made to a very high standard, ensuring they are reliable and exceptionally easy to operate by an untrained bystander. They come in compact packs that are easy to store and the batteries are designed to last. Top brands for these units include HeartSine, LifePak, Phillips and Mediana. If you are unsure how to choose an AED for your organisation, our team can assist you in sourcing a unit that offers great quality and functionality at the right price point for your budget. You can get in touch with us or call 1300 463 334.

When is a Defibrillator Needed?

The heart is controlled by electrical impulses from the brain and nervous system. If that electrical impulse malfunctions, a person’s heart suffers from a life-threatening event called ventricular fibrillation, that causes the heart to quiver and stop (known as sudden cardiac arrest) rather than pump strongly as it should. This cuts off the flow of oxygen to the brain and important organs, and the only way to restore this flow and regular hearth rhythm is by shocking it out of ventricular fibrillation and back into its regular rhythm by using a defibrillator.

Sudden cardiac arrest is very different to a heart attack, which occurs when a blockage shuts off blood flow to the heart, and the symptoms often include shortness of breath, chest pain, pressure on the chest, cold sweat and nausea. If a person is suffering from a heart attack, the heart will continue pumping but will struggle to do so, and emergency services should be called immediately to provide assistance and instructions.

You can tell if a person is suffering from ventricular fibrillation or sudden cardiac arrest if they display the following symptoms:

  • They collapse
  • They are unresponsive (unconscious)
  • They are not breathing

Before cardiac arrest, a person may complain of fatigue, weakness, dizziness, fainting, heart palpitations or chest pain. Do not apply the defibrillator or use it if the person is still talking or responsive.

It’s important to remember that sudden cardiac arrest can happen to anyone, at any time and in any place with little or no warning. It can happen to fit and healthy people, to men and women,and to the young and the old.

Why is a Defibrillator Necessary?

When sudden cardiac arrest occurs, blood flow immediately stops and organs like the heart and brain immediately begin to suffer and die. While emergency responders will act quickly to arrive when notified, the minutes it takes them to get to your location and begin treatment can already mean the patient may have suffered critical damage to their brain.

By having a defibrillator onsite – especially one that is easy to use by bystanders like an AED– you can react quickly to sudden cardiac arrest and apply life-saving treatment to restart the heart and oxygen flow to the brain. This is critical to minimising the impact of a cardiac arrest, reducing risks of brain and organ damage, as well as increasing risks of survival significantly.

Whatever you do in your daily life, whether you are at work, in school, at the shops or away on holiday, having a defibrillator nearby can save lives.

Buying Defibrillators in Australia

DefibsPlus is an established supplier of high-quality, affordable AEDsas well as defibrillator batteries, cases, signage, prep kits and power cords. While these defibrillators are designed to be used easily and safely by anyone, even children and untrained bystanders, we also provide professional training for individuals, staff and teams via our HeartSmart program to ensure that you feel confident, ready and able to assist anyone experiencing a sudden cardiac arrest.

Contact us today to find out more about defibrillators, defibrillator training programs and how to choose the right defibrillator for your organisation.