A new £1 million fund may increase the number of defibrillators across England by around 1,000, according to the Government.
The Department of Health has said that as part of government initiatives to promote the treatment and prevention of cardiovascular disease, communities throughout England will receive about 1,000 of the life-saving devices.
The news comes just days after Chancellor Jeremy Hunt was encouraged by SNP MSP Jenni Minto to "give the gift of life this Christmas” by eliminating VAT charges on defibrillators.
Minto said that eliminating the levy will enable the country to build a more efficient network of defibrillators and help save lives. The Irish government announced it would stop charging VAT on the devices in September.
And cardiac emergencies are once again in the headlines after Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin suffered a cardiac arrest during an NFL game after colliding with Cincinnati Bengals. He remains in a critical condition in hospital.
So would you know where to find your nearest defibrillator in an emergency? Here is everything you need to know.
How can I find my nearest defibrillator?
The following information is intended as a reference, and is not suitable for use in an emergency. If you require urgent medical assistance, call 999 now.
According to the British Heart Foundation, there are an estimated 100,000 public defibrillators installed around the UK.
A vast majority of these are mapped via The Circuit, a scheme designed to provide a nationwide overview of where defibrillators can be found. But it is thought that more than half of the UK’s defibrillators are yet to be registered with The Circuit.
In July 2022, ambulance services and charities encouraged owners of defibrillators to register their equipment on the ground-breaking national database in a major effort to boost the number of mapped defibrillators above the 50,000 threshold.
“Many defibrillators never get used because emergency services don’t know where they are or how to access them,” says the British Heat Foundation. “This can cost lives, and that’s why this new infrastructure is so vital.”
To find your nearest defibrillator, head to defibfinder.uk, where you can input your postcode to find defibrillators in your local area. More devices will be added to the map as they are registered with The Circuit.
Again, it’s good to have an idea in your head on where the nearest defibrillator devices are located for future reference. But if you are currently experiencing a medical emergency or are with someone who is, dial 999 immediately.
How do you use a defibrillator?
St John Ambulance have put together an incredibly thorough yet easy to understand guide on how to muse a defibrillator in an emergency.
- If you find someone unresponsive and/or not breathing normally, ask a helper to call 999 or 112 for emergency help while you start CPR. Ask a helper to find and bring a defibrillator, if available. If you’re on your own use the hands-free speaker on a phone so you can start CPR while speaking to ambulance control. Do not leave a casualty to look for a defibrillator yourself, the ambulance will bring one.
- When the helper returns with a defibrillator, ask for it to be switched on and to take the pads out, while you continue CPR. They should remove or cut through clothing to get to the casualty’s bare chest. They also need to wipe away any sweat. The defibrillator will give you voice prompts on what to do.
- They should attach the pads to the casualty’s chest, by removing the backing paper. Apply the pads in the positions shown. The first pad should be on the upper right side below the collar bone. The second pad should be on the casualty’s left side below the arm pit.
- The defibrillator will analyse the heart’s rhythm. Stop CPR and make sure no one is touching the casualty. It will then give a series of visual and verbal prompts that should be followed. If the defibrillator tells you that a shock is needed, tell people to stand back. The defibrillator will tell you when to press the shock button. After the shock has been given the defibrillator will tell you to continue CPR for two minutes before it re-analyses. If the defibrillator tells you that no shock is needed, continue CPR for two minutes before the defibrillator re-analyses.
- If the casualty shows signs of becoming responsive, such as coughing, opening eyes or speaking, and starts to breathe normally, put them in the recovery position. Leave the defibrillator attached. Monitor their level of response and prepare to give CPR again if necessary.
Can I buy a defibrillator for my home or business?
The British Heart Foundation sells a range of Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) from leading brands, plus all the accessories you’ll need.
The charity also offers bespoke packages and volume discounts upon enquiry. , and you can find out more information in the Frequently Asked Questions. section of its website. Use this online formfor expert advice.
Once you have a defibrillator set-up and ready for emergency use, be sure to add it to The Circuit by registering your device here. The more devices registered, the more comprehensive The Circuit’s mapping information will be, leading to a higher chance a life can be saved in the future.