First Aid Scotland incorporating

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Which DEFIB?

AED’s, DEFIBS, PAD units, Joules, IP ratings? Is it any wonder that choosing your defibrillator can be really confusing when sales staff talk of “essential” attributes you should be looking for. At AED-DEFIB-SHOP we will talk to you in plain english, explaining what you need to know, and let you choose the best unit for you (they’re not all the same). We’ll advise you on the unit that best suits your workplace environment, and not just sell you the one we have the biggest stock of. Phone us on 0800 0431 327 for a chat, we know you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

We’ll spend a bit of time on the phone finding out what are your concerns about purchasing one of these potentially life-saving devices, and what environment it will be used in, who will be using it (we’ve installed defibrillators with scout troops) and even advise on maintenance and servicing.

We want you to not only be delighted with your purchase, but to tell others about how well you were treated, and that makes us happy. Our Managing Director (Duncan) is a qualified NHS trained general nurse, with extensive experience in both a Coronary Care and Intensive care environment, so knows what customers are looking for.


We supply defibrillators to all types of businesses, from small businesses and shopping centres, to dental surgeries and major distilleries. And it doesn’t stop at supplying units, we’re there for the day to day advice, and supplying of replacement electrode pads and batteries, post cardiac arrest and on expiry of existing consumables for your unit. We’re here for the long haul, not just to shift boxes.

Give us a call. We know you’ll be impressed.

So we have answered some of the most common questions we get asked on a regular basis for you. Don’t worry if you can’t find the answer to your questions, you can give us a call on 0800 0431 327 and one of our experts will happily answer any queries you may have.

Alternatively you can use the contact us button below to submit a question online.

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Our top 10 most asked questions Questions & Answers

An AED (Automated External Defibrillator) is a small, lightweight device that analyses a person's heart rhythm and can recognise irregular heart rhythms such as ventricular fibrillation (VF) or ventricular tachycardia (VT), also known as Sudden Cardiac Arrest. AEDs are designed to be used by anyone who arrives first on the scene of a medical emergency, even those with minimal first aid or AED training. AEDs are often provided in public places and can be safely used by untrained members of the public whilst waiting for an ambulance. When a cardiac arrest has been recognised, the two adhesive pads (electrodes) must be attached to the patient's bare chest. This will allow the device to monitor the heart's electrical activity. An AED will only shock the patient if it is needed.

This is one of the most commonly mistaken pieces of information, very often perpetuated by the media. A heart attack is caused by a blockage in the main arteries of the heart muscle (myocardium) causing chest pain, and pain in the jaw and down one or both arms. On experiencing a heart attack, casualties often are able to phone for help themselves if near a telephone/ mobile phone, and can explain their symptoms to a call-centre operator prior to receiving urgent medical help. A casualty suffering from a sudden cardiac arrest will be unconscious, unresponsive, and not breathing. The difference between both conditions is clearly taught on our 3 day First Aid at Work courses.

During a cardiac arrest a casualty's chance of survival decreases by the minute without an Automated External Defibrillator (AED). Simply put, the quicker an AED is used, the better the chance of survival.

Modern day defibrillators are designed to be simple to use for everyone, and are classed as Public Access Defibrillators, or PAD's. Anyone, whether trained or not, can use a defibrillator in an emergency, and each PAD unit is designed to talk the user through the whole process. Some AED's will even feed back to the user if the chest compressions being delivered are too hard/soft or too fast/slow, so it's actually easier to carry out basic life support using a defibrillator than not using one.

Another common misconception. When a heart goes into a quivering condition called Ventricular Fibrillation (or VF), the heart is unable to empty and fill efficiently, stopping blood flow (and thereby oxygen in the blood) getting to the brain. During this time, the heart has an electrical conduction issue which has to, if possible, be reversed, but it's still beating, albeit too fast. A defibrillator may be able to reverse this "Fibrillation" by using a DEfibrillator which only works if the heart is in fact in fibrillation. It won't start that heart as the heart hasn't actually stopped.

Yes. Fortunately, cardiac arrest is rare in women who are pregnant, but if it were to occur it is quite appropriate to use an AED. The procedure is the same as in the non-pregnant but it is important to place the pads clear of enlarged breasts.

Fortunately, sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) in school-age children is rare. Resuscitation attempts at schools are more likely to be made on an adult (staff member or visitor) than a pupil. The presence of an AED at a school therefore provides potential benefit for all present at the site. An additional and important advantage of having an AED prominently located at a school is that students become familiar with them and can learn about first aid, resuscitation and the purpose of defibrillation.

If you witness someone who has collapsed possibly because of cardiac arrest, dial 999 to call the emergency medical services immediately. Follow the instructions given by the ambulance control centre who will provide instructions about steps to be taken. This may include the location of the nearest PAD. Staff working at the location should also know the location of an AED nearby.

Yes, it is usually safe to use an AED on a victim who is lying on a metallic, wet or other conductive surface. If the self-adhesive pads are applied correctly, and provided there's no direct contact between the user and the victim when the shock is delivered, there is no direct pathway that electricity can take that would cause the user to experience a shock. If the victim is wet, his/her chest should be dried so that the self-adhesive AED pads will stick properly.

The incidence of shockable rhythms requiring defibrillation in the paediatric population is very low but can occur. The priority must always be for high quality CPR and getting expert help. However, the AED can be deployed across all age groups if this is the only available machine.

More of our FAQ’s Your Questions Answered


An Ingress Protection (IP) rating is an electrical term used to denote protection against solid object then protection against liquids for electrical items (in this case an AED). The IP rating is in 2 parts and should be read separately (ie a 64 rating should be read as; 6 - Complete protection against dust 4 - Protected against water spraying form any angle. Obviously the higher the protection, the more dustproof/waterproof the electrical item is, and this should be considered when purchasing a defibrillator. Our staff can assist in advising customers when they are considering purchases.

First number is the solids protection status (first number i.e 5X) 1-No protection 2-Protection against solids bigger than 50mm 3-Protection from solids no biggr than 12.5mm 4-Protection from solids bigger than 1mm 5-Sufficient from dust ingress 6-Complete dust protection Second number is the liquid protection status (second number i.e X6) 1-No protection 2-Protects against vertical water drops at 15° 3-Protects against water spray up to 60° 4-Protects against water spray any angle 5-Protects against hosepipes 6-Protects against water jets/ heavy seas 7-Protects against limited immersion in water for defined times/ pressures 8-Protects for continuous submersion in water.

Discharge output from a defibrillator (if it detects Ventricular Fibrillation in a casualty) is delivered not in volts, but in Joules (J) which is a unit of energy roughly equivalent to producing a watt of power for one second. The higher the Joules, the greater the electrical force used to "shock" a heart back into a normal (Sinus) rhythm. Adult defibrillators typically deliver about 180 Joules, with some automatically escalating that after each shock to 200, 300 or even 360 Joules. Paediatric electrodes usually discharge a much reduced electrical shock of about 60 Joules.

This is often as a result of the casualty either not being in sudden cardiac arrest (ventricular fibrillation), or there being too large a time delay in being able to deploy the unit. There is also the possibility that the condition the casualty was afflicted with does not work by using a defibrillator. For instance, if the condition is caused by a high voltage electrical shock which has actually stopped the heart, a defibrillator will not work, as it only works on a fibrillating heart.

Don't worry, the majority of AED's nowadays automatically detect when a casualty has an artificial pacemaker fitted (interesting note: we were all born with actual pacemakers fitted to our hearts - it's called the Sino-Atrial Node) and if a shock is indicated will deliver in synchronisation with the artificial pacemaker.


In the majority of cases, automated external defibrillators (AED'S) do not require any form of user servicing. Our team will advise on what is required to ensure your unit is kept in perfect working condition. In fact, if you also book your AED training with First Aid Scotland, we'll even take your staff through the whole maintenance process from daily use to post SCA use so that staff feel confident in the unit you buy.

We strongly advise you not to use non manufacturer (OEM) consumables on your defibrillator for a number of reasons; 1. Use of non-original parts may invalidate your warranty 2. There is no guarantee of quality 3. Non OEM consumables may not work 4. Somebody's life may depend on someone trying to save a few pounds on sub standard parts.

At First Aid Scotland/ AED-DEFIB-SHOP we firmly believe that if it's second hand, it should be discarded as you have no idea how the unit has been previously treated, or if it has had intermittent faults. Even the trade-in units we receive following new unit purchase by our customers are destroyed, because we don't know how they will perform under emergency conditions.

This is a situation you do not want to be left in, as there's absolutely nothing that can be done unless you have another battery to install, or another defibrillator to use. It's a very simple process to check the condition of the unit daily or weekly, and someone should be tasked with checking the unit.

Put quite simply, if a defibrillator is attached to a casualty AND they are in sudden cardiac arrest, they are clinically classed as dead, and will feel nothing. This is when a defibrillator may work. If they have fainted, been knocked unconscious or are sleeping and the unit is switched on and the pads are applied (a real training issue here!!) the unit will not work because it's not needed, so NO, you can't hurt someone with an AED.