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Why use a defibrillator

Using a defibrillator can help save the life of a person having a sudden cardiac arrest. An arrhythmia known as ventricular fibrillation is the most common cause of sudden cardiac arrest. When a ventricular fibrillation occurs, the ventricles of the heart beat very rapidly and irregularly, leading to sudden cardiac arrest. A medical first aid defibrillator can be used to check the heart rhythm of the person and determine whether an electric shock is required in an effort to restore a normal heart rhythm. 

When to use a defibrillator

A defibrillator should be used when someone is suffering from a sudden cardiac arrest. Common signs of the need to use a defibrillator include where it is apparent that the person has suddenly collapsed, lost consciousness and/or is unresponsive. Alternatively, the person may not be breathing or have an abnormal breathing pattern, in which case it may be difficult to find their pulse or their skin may darken due to a lack of oxygen. For best results, a defibrillator should be used within minutes of the onset of sudden cardiac arrest to restore the heart's normal rhythm. When used within the first 3 to 5 minutes of a sudden cardiac arrest, a defibrillator can significantly increase a victim's chance of survival from less than 5%, to 70% and higher. 

How to use a defibrillator

Defibrillators are designed to be used by anyone with little or no experience. If the victim is breathing and has a pulse, a defibrillator should not be used. If the victim is not breathing, then a defibrillator will be appropriate to use. Before attaching the defibrillator, check that the airway is clear and begin CPR. By turning on the defibrillator, the visual and voice prompts will guide you to attach the adhesive defibrillator pads onto the victim's chest. The defibrillator will then proceed to analyse the victim's heart rhythm and deliver a shock to the victim to restore their pulse and breathing. Always be guided by the visual and voice prompts of the defibrillator. By understanding these general principles behind medical first aid defibrillators, you may be able to save the life of someone suffering a sudden cardiac arrest.