AED Automated External Defibrillator

What is an AED automated external defibrillator?

An automated external defibrillator (AED) or defib, is a portable electronic device that automatically diagnoses and treats life-threatening cardiac arrhythmias ventricular fibrillation (VF) and pulseless ventricular tachycardia (PVT), the application of electricity that stops the arrhythmia, allowing the heart to reestablish an effective rhythm. An AED is designed to be simple to use for the layperson, with simple audio, visual commands and information, and the use of AED’s is taught in many first aid, certified first responder, and basic life support (BLS) level cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) classes.


Frank Pantridge invented the portable defibrillator in Belfast, Northern Ireland, in the mid-1960s, and the Cardiac Resuscitation Company produced the first automatic, public-use defibrillator in the late 1970s. Heart-Aid was the name given to the device when it was first introduced. There are various brands of defibrillators such as The HeartSine samaritan PAD and plenty of AED accessories to go with your equipment.

What is Heartsafe?

Heartsafe is a British company with 12 years of experience in providing defibrillator (AED) solutions to communities, businesses, schools, and sports clubs across the United Kingdom.

You can find information on your local ambulance service and a map of automated external defibrillators in a cabinet close to you.

Heartsine was established in 1998 to continue the innovative development of advanced lifesaving products for the treatment of sudden cardiac arrest. Their drive to innovate began in 1967 when they developed the first mobile defibrillator, which revolutionised the way the world delivered emergency care. The company has continued to innovate in the years since, advancing mobile defibrillation and lifesaving technology. The Automated External Defibrillator technology can mean the difference between life and death. You can compare Heartsine samaritan products by looking on their website to accommodate your needs.

What is a defibrillator vs AED?

Defibrillators all serve the same function. They are designed to deliver an electrical shock to the heart to get it to beat normally. While an AED is one type of defibrillator, it is far from the only one. AEDs, ICDs (implantable cardioverter-defibrillators), and WCDs are the three types of defibrillators (wearable cardioverter defibrillator). Each type detects arrhythmias or irregular heart rhythms. When a defibrillator detects a heartbeat, it will deliver a shock to restore normal rhythm. Learn more information about the three types of defibrillators and how they work.

Is an AEDs or automated external defibrillators safe to use?

Unlike traditional defibrillators, an automated external defibrillator (AED) requires little (if any) training to use. Furthermore, the AED automatically diagnoses the heart rhythm and determines whether a shock is required. When the person is lying on a metal surface, it is safe to use an AED, but the AED pads should not come into contact with the metal surface. Try not to get the AED wet. AEDs are safe to use in all weather conditions. Before using AED, if possible, provide a dry environment. Non-medical personnel, such as firefighters, police officers, lifeguards, flight attendants, security guards, teachers, family members of high-risk individuals, and bystanders, can use an AED if they know the right information. You are included in this! In the event of a sudden cardiac arrest, anyone can (and should) use an AED (SCA).

When should an AED automated external defibrillator be used?

AEDs are used to resuscitate a person who has suffered a cardiac arrest. This usually happens when there is a disruption in the electrical activity of the heart, resulting in a dangerously fast heartbeat (ventricular tachycardia) or a fast and irregular heartbeat (ventricular fibrillation). SCA symptoms are sudden and severe and include no breathing or gasping noises accompanied by abnormal breathing, being unresponsive, unconscious, or having no pulse. Knowing a little first aid information will go a long way in treating someone or saving their life.

When not to use an AED?

There are a variety of special circumstances that necessitate extra caution when determining whether and how to use an AED or defibrillator. It is always advised to be informed with up to date information on the latest defibrillators and how to use them. If the person is semi-conscious and breathing normally, an AED shock is not required. Information will become apparent on the screen when a shock will not be permitted. Victims of Sudden Cardiac Arrest may experience agonising breathing for seconds to minutes after their heart stops beating. Agonal breathing is NOT normal breathing and necessitates immediate action on your part.

When someone is in cardiac arrest, they will be unconscious and unresponsive, as well as breathing in agony. It is critical that you do not confuse agonal breathing with real breathing and that you respond to cardiac arrest victims who are in need. Gasping, snorting, strange, shallow half-breaths, or possibly moaning are all examples of agonal respirations. A person who is suffering from agonising breathing may also exhibit muscle twitching.

Do not use an AED on a victim who has a bracelet or tattoo with information that says “Do Not Resuscitate” or “DNR” on their chest, wrist, or forearm. The DNR order indicates that the individual does not want to be resuscitated. It is preferable if you respect their wishes.

Always ensure everyone stands back before you use an AED to prevent the shock from passing through to other people. This can be very dangerous and information is provided with the AED to ensure it is being handled safely. 

Is there a course I can take to keep a heart from stopping?

Yes, there is! It’s always best to be informed with up to date information on AED techniques. We offer various courses to help you understand and give you access to practice saving lives with the use of an AED or defibrillator. You can view what we have on offer on our website, select the course that is right for you and book to suit your availability. We have a defibrillator bundle view on our website and information on how to save lives. We also teach basic information such as congenital heart disease and the difference between a fully automatic defibrillator and a semi-automatic defibrillator. We use a fully automatic AED which is designed to give a shock automatically, if needed, without the rescuer having to push a button to deliver that shock. The device communicates step-by-step instructions that let rescuers know when a victim is about to be shocked. It is a fantastic product and by far the easiest AED to use and view whilst treating the victim with guided information.