Mark Gilmore discusses how defibrillators can help save a life and how careful use and stringent maintenance are essential.
08 May 2018 | Mark Gilmore
Every year, more than seven million people globally suffer, with no warning, from sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) - and only five to 10 per cent survive.
And 84 per cent of SCA events occur outside of a healthcare setting. They often happen in public areas and in work environments. So what can you do to ensure that your workplace is fully equipped to deal with someone struck by SCA?
The power of defibrillation
In a case of SCA, the first thing you should do is alert the emergency services, as it is a medical emergency that can lead to death.
However, the average response time for emergency services is around eight to 10 minutes and every minute that passes without defibrillation reduces the survival rate by seven to 10 per cent. So having an accessible automated external defibrillator (AED) could determine whether the sufferer survives or dies.
While the importance of defibrillation is widely recognised, the way they are used and maintained isn't.
Use and maintenance made easy
It is recommend that FM professionals and organisations follow the five steps below to make sure defibrillators are in full working order.
1. Invest in team training
Contrary to popular belief, defibrillators can be used by everyone - not just a healthcare professional. Today, many devices feature clear, simple voice and visual prompts, which guide users on what to do.
In addition, it's useful to ensure that your team members are confident handling and operating the devices. Although they are simple to use, the fear of the unknown is often a hindrance.
When procuring a defibrillator, check to see if the supplier offers training options and whether there are easy ways to integrate it into your daily operations. Online training - rather than options that require your team to travel to a specific location - makes it accessible to everyone everywhere.
2. Check expiration dates
The batteries and pads in your defibrillator are the key functions that send the shock to the SCA sufferer.
Both the pads and batteries will have expiration dates, so it is essential that you keep an eye on when they will need replacing. Pads are single-use, so if they are used in an event of SCA, they will need to be replaced.
For FM professionals, monitoring the status of multiple devices in different locations can be incredibly time-consuming. For situations like this, we recommend looking into automatic status monitoring defibrillators that can give you a real-time view of the readiness of your devices - no matter where they may be located.
3. Storage needs to be accessible
Your defibrillator should be easily accessible to everyone who enters your premises. There are a few different options when it comes to storage, but it is essential that it meets your exact requirements.
The different options available include:
-Internal wall cabinets
-External wall cabinets
4. Watch out for cold weather
Earlier this year, we saw 'the beast from the East', which sent parts of the UK into meltdown, and it could and would have had a knock-on effect for defibrillators.
Should you experience cold weather, we recommend:
-Warming pads between the palm of your hands - if they are cold or stiff - to loosen them.
-Moving your defibrillator into a warm room if it's located in a cold one that has a temperature below its operating level.
-If you keep your defibrillator in a vehicle, wrap it in a thick garment, fleece or heavy foil blanket - this will help shield it from the cold temperatures and prevent temperature-related problems.
5. Check the warranty
When procuring a defibrillator, you must check the supplier's warranty to make sure that it is a worthwhile investment and that you are protected in case anything goes wrong.
You should consider the devices typical life span and look at its guarantee length, as some devices on the market can have an eight-year guarantee - which is the longest available.
Mark Gilmore is managing director at Aero Healthcare