There are a lot of myths surrounding defibrillators, or defibs as we would like to call it. We shall break down these myths by discussing facts about defibrillators and how they work.
What is a defibrillator and how does it work?
A defibrillator is used to deliver an electrical ‘shock’ to a heart that is fibrillating. Often in a cardiac arrest, the heart will be in a state that there is too much electrical activity that heart is not able to ‘pump’ blood effectively – this is called fibrillation, which causes ineffective blood circulation and no pulses to be felt. A defibrillator sends a strong electrical shock to the heart, which then resets the heart and restores a normal, coordinated heartbeat.
10 Myths and facts about defibrillators
Myth #1. Defibrillators are not safe for children.
Fact: Battery-operated defibrillators with the correct electrode pads can be used on all children safely.
Myth #2. Portable defibrillators like an automatic external defibrillator (AED) are not safe.
Fact: There had been no recorded cases of a person getting injured from use of an AED. In cases of cardiac arrest, you can rest assured that using an AED will not cause harm and is completely legal as per the Good Samaritan Laws in Australia.
Myth #3. Only medical professionals can use a defibrillator.
Fact: Anyone with access to a defibrillator can and should use a defibrillator on someone suffering a sudden cardiac arrest (SCA). An occurrence of SCA is time critical and simply cannot wait for paramedics, so it is best to act quick.
Myth #4. You need to be trained to use a defibrillator.
Fact: Although training does help a person be more prepared, you do not have to be a trained professional to use a defibrillator like an AED as the device will tell you what to do. Some models have voice prompts and give coaching feedback to the user.
Myth #5. A defibrillator can cause unintentional shocks.
Fact: A defibrillator will not deliver shocks to the heart unless it requires them. It is run by a computer that specifically analyses the person’s heart rhythm, so only a person suffering from fibrillation will receive a shock.
Myth #6. A defibrillator is expensive and can only be used once.
Fact: Defibrillators used in non-hospital settings like a high quality AED are affordable and capable of delivering a good number of shocks before they’re due for battery replacement. Make sure you only purchase one from a reputable supplier.
Myth #7. Defibrillator shocks can cause SCA victims to flail around
Fact: This misconception can be attributed to inaccurate portrayals seen in movies. Although in some instances there can be movement, often there is only slight movement on the shoulders.
Myth #8. You could kill someone with a defibrillator.
Fact: Incorrect – the computer analysis in an AED will not allow you to shock someone who is not in need of a shock. It is always better to act rather than do nothing.
Myth #9. Defibrillators are not safe for pregnant women.
Fact: A pregnant woman may receive CPR shocks like others. Defibrillation is not known to cause serious risk to both the mother and the child.
Myth #10. Defibrillators can only be accessed in hospitals.
Fact: Defibrillators are now available in public, non-hospital spaces like schools, workplaces, hotels, gymnasiums, retirement homes, sporting clubs, malls, airports, and many other places. Some Australian households are also getting a relatively inexpensive defibrillator kit.
Can a defibrillator restart a heart?
An AED will restart a heart that is fibrillating but not effectively pumping blood around the body.Unfortunately, a defibrillator cannot restart a heart after it has completely stopped and flatlined.
Can a defibrillator bring you back to life?
For the same reason that a defibrillator cannot restart a heart after it has flatlined, a defibrillator cannot bring someone back to life.
When should you not use defibrillator?
Do not use a defibrillator when a person is still concious, wearing a “Do Not Resuscitate” or DNR bracelet, or has a DNR tattoo.
Does a defibrillator stop the heart?
Technically yes – but this allows the heart to restart its normal electrical activity restoring the ability to pump blood around the body.
Save a life with a trusted defibrillator provider
At Integrity Health & Safety, we strive to be an ethical, sustainable and socially responsible company that provides our clients with the best of safety products, services and solutions while leveraging these relationships to support and improve Indigenous health care capability.
Whether you are after one defib or hundreds, we can assist you:
- Advice on Defibrillator selection
- Audit your current defibs, batteries and pads
- Online and face to face familiarisation training
- Service and support
Using our many years experience as Paramedics and Healthcare workers, we are able to advise on best practice for defibrillators in the workplace and help to empower your staff to feel confident to act in an emergency – and actions to cope after an emergency event.