On several occasions recently, concern has been raised about the use of Defibrillators in emergency situations, and the fear that more harm than good can be done when used on a casualty.
I have asked the advice of W Bro Jeffrey Way, an Area Co-ordinator for FastAid Emergency Response, an expert on CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) and the use of Defibrillators. In particular, the question of applying a defibrillator to someone with a pacemaker fitted has been raised.
Jeff’s response is:
Possible Interference with Implanted Pacemaker
"Therapy should not be delayed for patients with implanted pacemakers and a defibrillation attempt should be made if the patient is unconscious and not breathing. The AED has pacemaker detection and rejection, however with some pacemakers the AED may not advise a defibrillation shock."
- Do not place the pads directly over an implanted device.
- Place the pad at least one inch from any implanted device.
Pacemakers are invariably placed to the left of the heart, and the pads are placed on the right, so interference should not be possible.
As a general rule, use of a defibrillator cannot cause more harm than a casualty experiencing a heart attack has already suffered, and the defibrillator will not administer a shock if the patient’s condition does not warrant action.
We are currently organising courses for volunteers throughout the Province to receive basic training in CPR & the use of Defibrillators, and will be circulating all Lodges shortly. Jeff Way is prepared to run courses at Guy’s Cliffe for anyone in the area to attend. Every location already has a defibrillator in situ. A basic guide to the use of defibrillators is accessible here