A number of high profile medical emergencies involving heart problems at sports events have thrust the need for more defibrillators in sports clubs and public spaces in general. In Ireland, the need for Defibrillators is so important. In the recent Irish Budget the government has also removed the VAT charges on AEDs to allow even more access to these life saving devices.  It is vital that we know what to do in the event of a cardiac arrest and that we have the equipment to deal with it.

What is an AED – Defibrillators 

AEDs (Automated External Defibrillators) are portable, automatic devices that analyse the heart’s rhythm and deliver an electrical shock if a sudden cardiac arrest is detected. They can be used in public areas or during sporting events as well. Defibrillators are extremely effective at restoring a normal heart rhythm and saving lives. In addition, the devices are affordable and are available to the public.

A defibrillator is a life-saving device that can restore heart rhythm to normal within minutes of sudden cardiac arrest. However, it must be used correctly and within 10 minutes of the abnormal rhythm starting. Defibrillators can only restore normal heart rhythm if the abnormal rhythm is ventricular tachycardia with no pulse or ventricular fibrillation. If not used correctly, defibrillators can cause further damage.

How do defibrillators work?

A defibrillator works by passing a short electric current through the heart. This shock depolarizes the cardiac muscle and allows the body’s natural pacemaker to reestablish a normal rhythm. The device uses electrodes that are attached to a conductive gel. This gel reduces the natural resistance of body tissues and prevents electric burns. Many modern defibrillators use adhesive pads with conductive gel already applied.

Defibrillators are used by first responders and are very useful for emergency situations. First responders will administer CPR to the patient for two minutes and will check the heart rhythm. If it is abnormal, medications may be given to correct the rhythm. If blood flow is restored, the brain will have access to blood, promoting the recovery of brain function.

Why a Defibrillator is so important

Having a defibrillator in a public area is the first step in preventing sudden cardiac arrest. The American Heart Association estimates that about 295,000 people die each year as a result of sudden cardiac arrest. Sudden cardiac arrest affects people of all ages, from the youngest to the oldest. Every minute that passes without defibrillation decreases the chance of survival. This means that if you are involved in a sporting event and notice a sudden cardiac arrest, it is crucial to use an AED as quickly as possible.

Defibrillators are designed to be small and easy to use. They can be placed in public locations or kept in a vehicle. They can also be used at home and are often available without a prescription. Many defibrillators are also designed to monitor and analyse the rhythm of the heart to determine if it’s in need of a shock.

Where to find a defibrillator

You will be able to find a defibrillator and other products such as AED grab bags and pads at most first aid supplies shops. Once you receive your AED it is important that you or whoever is in charge of first aid read the instructions so that in the case of emergency they are prepared to use it. When buying a product like this we always hope to never have to use it, but having one and being prepared may just save someone’s life.

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