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Frequently Asked Questions


What is a defibrillator?
A piece of life-saving equipment which can analyse the heart rhythm and if necessary, automatically gives a high energy electric shock to the heart that may restore a more stable rhythm. it's an essential lifesaving step in the chain of survival.

The devices are compact, portable, easy to use with no training required and very effective. They are designed to be used by lay persons; the machines guide the operator through the process by verbal instructions and visual prompts. They are safe and will not allow a shock to be given unless the heart's rhythm requires it. They are designed to be stored for long periods without use and require very little routine maintenance. Several different models exist (see above image) and are available from the manufacturers or medical equipment companies.

What is the difference between Automated External Defibrillators or Public Access Defibrillators?
Both names refer to the same defibrillation devices. The only difference is where they are located.

Public Access Defibrillators (or PADs) are located in a place accessible to the general public. This can be on an outside wall, or inside public areas, such as in the reception of a fitness centre. It is important to note that some PADs are only accessible when the public facility is open. Outside PADs are accessible 24 hours a day.

Automated External* Defibrillators (AEDs) can be stored privately and out of sight, but this is not recommended. *External refers to the fact that the machine attaches to the heart externally when in use, not the location of the machine.

Why can't we just wait until paramedics arrive?
Because after a cardiac arrest, every minute without CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) and defibrillation reduces someone's chance of survival by 10 per cent.

When you call 999, the operator can now tell you if there's a publicly accessible defibrillator nearby. Don't delay or interrupt chest compressions to get it, send someone else.

How do I use a defibrillator?
As soon as the device is opened, it will begin to issue verbal instructions for you to follow. Two adhesive pads (electrodes) are used to connect the AED to the patient's bare chest. Through these pads the AED can both monitor the heart's electrical rhythm and deliver a shock when it is needed. The AED provides audible instructions and most models also provide visual prompts on a screen.

I have a private AED (or a PAD).  Should it be registered with you?
Yes please. Cardiac Action Group would like to know its location so that we can add it to our growing database. We share this database with the operations room at The St John Emergency Ambulance Service so in an emergency, a medical professional or a member of the public may be able to use yours to help save a life.

What does the Cardiac Action Group have to do with AEDs/PADs?
We are a charity that is working to improve public access to these devices, increase the number of devices around the Bailiwick, raise awareness of the location of these devices, raise awareness of what they are and how they work, and adding privately owned devices to our growing database.

We offer free assistance to purchasers of the devices, such as the best location to install one, and advice on signage required and can assist with any planning permission that needs to be sought.

We do not sell the devices directly but they can be purchased through us at a discounted rate from the supplier. We work closely with The St John Emergency Ambulance Service here in Guernsey and are fully supported by them in our work.

Why should I buy a defibrillator?
In the UK, every 3 minutes someone has a heart attack. Around 30% are fatal with 190 people dying of a heart attack every day. In England, the ambulance service attempt resuscitation in approximately 25,000 cases per annum but at present, only a small proportion survive.

Most cases of sudden cardiac arrest are due to an abnormality or the heart's electrical rhythm called ventricular fibrillation (VF). Defibrillation needs to be carried out immediately within a critical time. Conditions for defibrillation are optimal for only a few minutes after the onset of VF, although this period can be extended if a bystander provides effective CPR.

Nevertheless, the victim's chance of survival falls by around 7-10% with every minute that defibrillation is delayed. Only rarely are the emergency services able to attend and provide defibrillation early enough.

What is the CAG APP?
This is a free application for mobile devices that shows the location of all registered PADs and AEDs in the Bailiwick and provides directions to them. You can read more about this on our Mobile App page.