Kitt’s Guide to Life-Saving Devices

Kitt’s Guide to Life-Saving Devices

Jenny Brannan
Posted by Jenny Brannan

Date: Monday, 20 February 2017. -  
Survival Squad, Blog, First Aid, Defibrillators

As many of you are aware, the definitive treatment required to assist a casualty suffering a cardiac arrest is effective CPR and defibrillation from a life-saving defibrillator device.

For National Heart Month, each member of our Survival Squad has set themselves individual goals and this week, it’s Kitt’s turn to reveal her plans for February and the rest of the year. 

Kitt’s superpower is that she can heal all manners of injuries, be it cuts and grazes to sprains and strains; but even she knows that she’ll need some assistance if treating a patient of sudden cardiac arrest.

Admittedly, defibrillators can be quite a daunting subject, but don’t fret, Kitt is here to provide a complete oversight about the devices including how they work, when they’re needed and how you can ensure you’re choosing the right device for you – should you want one.

Work It

A defibrillator is a device that has the ability to deliver a potentially life-saving shock to a heart that is suffering a sudden cardiac arrest.

When someone suffers from cardiac arrest, their heart will be quivering rather than beating, meaning oxygenated blood cannot be pumped around the body, thus the vital organs will be deprived of their required nutrients. When the heart quivers, it is medically known as Ventricular Fibrillation (VF) and is one of the most dangerous heart rhythms that you can experience as it requires immediate attention.

The high voltage life-saving shock from the defibrillator is delivered through electrode pads. Electrode pads are pre-connected to the defibrillator and are attached to the patient’s chest by the conductive adhesive.

After the electrode pads have successfully been attached to the patient, the defibrillator device will begin to analyse the patient’s heart rhythm and then make a decision on whether the patient requires a shock or not. If the victim does not require a shock, then the defibrillator will not allow you to deliver a shock.

If a shock is required then some defibrillators, known as fully-automatic devices will deliver the shock to the patient without the intervention of the First Responder. However, a semi-automatic device will usually have an oversized, easy to locate shock button which the deliverer of treatment is required to press in order to deliver the shock to the patient.

When the shock is delivered, it may come as a shock – no pun intended – that the heart will stop very briefly and the body’s natural pacemaker will takeover, restarting it in a normal rhythm. After the shock has been delivered, then effective CPR needs to begin on the ratio of 30 chest compressions to 2 rescue breaths.

The One for Me

Choosing the right defibrillator device isn’t an easy task, there are many factors you must consider when purchasing these devices. Do you want a fully automatic device or semi automatic device? What’s the on-going cost of ownership? Where are you storing your defibrillator? All of these questions need to be answered prior to the purchase as they can heavily impact your choice.

IP Rating

When first choosing your defibrillator, the first thing you need to consider is the device’s IP rating. By using the device’s IP rating as a guide, you’ll be able to determine whether your chosen AED can withstand the risks of your environment and the corresponding elements.

It’s simple and easy to understand IP ratings; the higher the IP rating the better the defibrillator is protected. E.g:

IP21 – protected against condensation and touch, best placed in a low risk environment such as an office.

IP56 –protected against dust and high pressure water jets. Defibrillators with IP ratings such as these can withstand the hardships of being placed in a high-risk environment such as a construction site.

On-Going Cost

It is important to remember that when you purchase your defibrillator, there will be various on-going costs to keeping the device in a rescue ready state.

The main costs will be on the vital accessories required to ensure your device is in a rescue ready state; these are the electrode pads and the battery. Without these, your defibrillator would not be able to assist a victim of sudden cardiac arrest.

Storage Solutions

The storage solution for each and every defibrillator will be different given the needs of its owner. If it is being stored inside then perhaps a wall bracket would be a good choice as the device is visible, alerting people that they’re in a heart safe environment, but is also easily retrievable if there was a cardiac emergency.

If your defibrillator is going to be located outside, then perhaps a cabinet would be the best option as it would be completely protected against the elements as well as easily locatable as the majority of cabinets have a clear door so the device is on display. The device would be visible and kept safely away until required.

Kitt Says...

So, after all that do you feel more confident about defibrillators? Maybe Kitt has clued you up that much that you’re even considering purchasing your own defibrillator device!

If that's the case then we'd love to hear from you, or even if you're already heart safe and reading this to catch up with the Survival Squad, let us know what inspired you to invest in a life-saving device. Drop us a line in the comment section, or if commenting isn't really your thing, head on over to Twitter and Tweet us @imptraining and let us know what made you become heart safe with a defibrillator.