FAQ – Most frequently asked AED questions

Below you will find the questions that we are most frequently asked about defibrillators and our services.

1.General questions
2.Questions about payments
3.Questions about postage and delivery
4.Practical questions
5.Technical questions

1. General questions

What does the word AED stand for?
AED stands for Automated External Defibrillator, also called a defib or defibrillator.

What is an AED?
An AED is a device with which one can provide an electrical shock to the heart if there are life-threatening arrhythmias.  A built-in computer analyses the heart rhythm of the patient and determines automatically whether a shock should be administered. A computer voice command will tell you when to administer an electric shock and when to start with chest compressions and mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. The voice command is often backed up by text displayed on a screen on the device. The AED will guide you safely through the resuscitation process until the moment that professional help arrives.

How does an AED operate?
Two electrode pads attached to the AED are applied to the patient’s chest. A computer in the AED will analyse the heart rhythm of the patient and determine whether a shock needs to be administered in order to save the patient. If that is the case the computer will provide voice commands to direct the user on how to attempt a resuscitation.

Do some brands save more lives than others?
The AEDs currently available on the market have all been approved in conformity with European directives and can all save lives. No manufacturer can claim that their lifesaving device saves more lives than others. Also there is no connection between the price of an AED and its ability to save lives.

Do I have to buy the same brand of AED as the local ambulance service?
The faster the shock can be administered the better the result.  The ambulance service may well change to their own electrodes or ECG monitor, in which case purchasing the same AED as the ambulance service is not necessarily going to be beneficial, but would almost certainly be a much more expensive option.  We advise you to buy an AED with which you feel comfortable and an AED that fits your budget, needs and circumstances. Try not to limit your choice to one brand, be open-minded about which AED is better suited to your circumstances and needs.

Is a maintenance service contract necessary with an AED?
The current AEDs are virtually maintenance free. It is not strictly necessary to purchase a maintenance contract, but it is advisable, to ensure that you are never without a functioning AED.  Our experience in recent years has shown that there are very many AEDs that are unfit for use because the battery has depleted, or because the electrodes have expired. More than 75% of our customers choose to purchase a maintenance contract to avoid their having to worry about their equipment, for peace-of-mind and to ensure that they are never without a working AED. More information about the various maintenance service options are available on the website by clicking on the Maintenance tab.

Why is a rescue kit with an oxygen mask, latex gloves, razors, sterile wipes and clothing scissors supplied with the AED?
The rescue kit contains everything that you may need if you have to use and AED, kept with the AED, precious time will be saved in order to prepare the patient for resuscitation.

The clothing scissors are used to quickly remove the upper body clothing as this is essential to enable the electrodes to be secured to the patients bare chest. The latex gloves and sterile wipes are for hygiene. The razors are included so that excess chest hair can be removed, also to enable the electrodes to be secured to the patients bare chest.  The oxygen mask can be used to hygenically provide artificial respiration during CPR, it also has an O2 adaptor, which enables the paramedics to connect their oxygen supply directly to the mask when they arrive.

Why is training advised for use of an AED?

Training is not compulsory within the UK, but advisable.  Most training courses will teach AED use alongside CPR techniques, using CPR when resuscitating a patient greatly increases their survival chances.

The user of an AED should be able to recognize the signs of a suspected cardiac arrest. It is also important to know when and how to seek professional help and how to apply CPR. Equally important is that the user becomes familiar with the device which he/she may have to use.  Also, it is beneficial to possess the necessary theoretical knowledge concerning the background of a circulatory arrest and the safe use of an AED.

Which AED should we buy?
The most frequently asked question we hear is "Which AED should we buy?”. Many clients are currently unable to negotiate the maze of information and the choice is indeed very difficult because of the great variety of AEDs now available. We advise you to consult our product information page “AED Purchase Assistance”. On this page you will find useful information that may help you to buy the right AED!  Still confused? Then contact our friendly expert customer advisers, who can give unbiased and independent advice as to which AED is best suited to your needs and circumstances.  We are happy to help!

2. Questions about payments

Do the prices in your shop include or exclude VAT?
All prices at AEDexpert.co.uk are stated inclusive and exclusive of VAT.  The current UK VAT rate is 20%.  If you are able to provide a valid VAT number, we will not charge VAT on your order.  If you have a charity registration number, please contact our customer service, who will advise you of the simple procedure that will enable you to receive your orders VAT free.

How much are the shipping costs?
AEDexpert.co.uk doesn’t charge shipping costs within the UK. We take the delivery of your order at our expense. Regardless of the size of your order.  We also provide free UK drop-shipping services to multiple addresses if required.

How can I pay in your shop?
Customers can make payment in two ways, either by BACs transfer, or via debit/credit card (excluding AMEX).  We DO NOT accept payment via cheque, due to the high administration costs involved.  In special circumstances, we can accept payment via cheque at a cost of £150.  You will find more information about our payment methods in our online shop in the payment tab.  We only dispatch orders on receipt of full and completed payment.

What is the period of payment of your invoices?
Our period for payment is 14 days.  Should a payment be overlooked, we shall send a timely reminder.

What happens if I do not pay on time?
When the payment term is exceeded the invoiced amount due will be increased by interest and fees. Should payment remain outstanding we will then outsource collection to a bailiff. There may of course be a specific reason for late payment. In which case we would ask you to please inform us before the due date, so that we may try to find a solution.

3. Questions about shipping and delivery

How do I know whether  my purchase order has been received correctly?
When your order has been completed you will receive a confirmation email within a few minutes. In this email your order number will be stated, along with the payment method you have chosen. If you have paid immediately via PayPal using your credit/debit card, then this confirmation email means that we have received both your order and payment. Your order will then be processed immediately.

When can I expect my order from AEDexpert?
Almost all items from our shop are available from stock. In most cases you will receive your order within two working days, from receipt of cleared payment. It can happen that some products are not in stock at the time of your order. In which case we will inform you by e-mail about their anticipated delivery time. You will in all cases receive an email, with a UPS tracking number, once your order has been dispatched.

Who delivers my product?
All our deliveries are shipped by UPS in a timely and secure manner. Your order will be dispatched the same day that we receive payment, providing this is a working day and payment has been received before 2pm.

How can I track my order?
As soon as we have packed your order we will send you a system-generated email with your shipping information including a Track & Trace number. This number will allow you to track your package on the internet.

I have only received a part of my order. Can you help me?
Perhaps one or more items from your order were not in stock. Sometimes it takes just a few days before these products are again in stock, in which case you will receive the remaining part of your order a few days later. Reordering ("back order") may also take longer if the supplier also does not have the products in stock.  In this instance we will send the first part of your order straight away and the rest once it is back in stock.  We hope that you will not have to wait too long for your entire order. If an item is in back order, you will always receive a message from us.  As soon as any out-of-stock items become available, your order will be immediately dispatched and you will receive a dispatch notification email.

How can I return items?
We hope that this will never be necessary, but if for some reason you are not satisfied with the product(s) you have received, please inform us as soon as possible!
We adhere to the guidelines detailed in the Remote Sales Act.
Articles may be returned to us within 14 calendar days, with no reason required.  If you wish to return an item/items, please contact our customer service team for a returns form to include with your package.   If the reason for return is no fault of ours, the return costs will be borne by you.  Insufficiently stamped packages will not be accepted by us and will be returned to you.  We are not liable for any parcels lost in transit, so it is advisable to obtain a proof of postage and copy this to our customer service agents.

4. Practical questions

Is it possible to defibrillate a wet victim?
In the case of a wet environment (swimming pool, drowning, etc.) you will first have to dry the victim’s chest before affixing the electrode pads.  It is not necessary for the patient to be completely dry, but safer for both you and the patient, if you are able to dry as much excess water as possible. It is also important that no one (including yourself) touches the victim during the defibrillation shock.

Can an AED also be used on children?
In general cardiac arrest is rare among children and this type of cardiac arrest is seldom caused by arrhythmia that is amenable to electric shock defibrillation. Despite this, most suppliers provide the option of an AED that is also suitable for children younger than 8 years, or weighing less than 25 Kg.  Usually in the form of special paediatric electrodes with a reduced surface area supplying less electrical energy.  Some AED’s are also programmable enabling a choice to be made between adult or child patient.  Please note that paediatric are affixed to a child in a different position to adult electrodes, usually the AED or the electrode packaging will have a diagram showing the correct positioning of the electrodes.

Can anyone buy an AED?
Yes, anyone can purchase an AED, not only businesses but also individuals. Unlike some countries, in the UK you can buy an AED without a prescription or any compulsory training requirements.

Can anyone use an AED?
Unlike the past, when only doctors and specially trained nurses were allowed to operate a defibrillator, the AED is an automatic defibrillator that has been especially designed to be used by non-professional members of the public. Several international studies have shown that applying early defibrillation to someone who is having a cardiac arrest leads to a huge increase in survival chances. This has led to more and more businesses and public areas being equipped with AED’s. It does not matter who provides the defibrillation. The point is that it is done as soon as possible. An AED will talk you through every step of the defibrillation and CPR process - NEVER BE AFRAID TO OPEN AND USE AN AED WHEN NEEDED!  They are designed for everyone, including children to be able to operate.

Why do I need to provide CPR inbetween the AEDs shocks?
The AED wil, after analysing the patient, indicate whether defibrillation is required. After a defibrillation impulse the AED will instruct you to give chest compressions and mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. This will provide the heart and brain with the oxygen needed to benefit from defibrillation.  The chances of survival following defibrillation are greatly increased when CPR has also been applied to the patient inbetween shocks.  The better the CPR technique, the greater the survival outcome, a good AED/CPR course is beneficial to everyone who may have to use an AED.

How safe is it to use an AED?
Provided you have fully read the the safety instructions that came with your AED, the use of an AED is completely safe!  An AED could be used in a variety of situations, therefore there are a large number of safety features built into the device. The AED will only give the command and provide the capacity to shock if its analysis proves it to be necessary. This means that an AED cannot administer a shock where it is not necessary. A voice in the device will give the instruction not to touch the victim during shocking. Should anyone do so the device will detect their presence and not discharge. AED training courses generally take about 4 hours and are recommended.

Is the use of an AED always successful in the event of a cardiac arrest?
No. An AED will only give instructions to defibrillate (shock) the heart in case of ventricular fibrillation or other heart rhythm disorder that is susceptible to defibrillation. In addition the victim will always require oxygen and chest compressions, therefore it is essential that CPR is administered alongside defibrillation.  Patients that receive good and effective CPR during a resuscitation are more likely to survive than patients who have received defibrillation alone.  It is also important to know that the longer the delay before using the AED, the lower the probability of survival, as every second passes.

What is the importance of an AED if someone has a cardiac arrest?
When a person has a cardiac arrest, for example when having a heart attack, the cardiac arrest will, in around 70-80% of cases, be the result of total chaos in the electrical highway of the heart.  The heart does not stop, but is continuing to vibrate in a random pattern and therefore no longer pumping the blood effectively. This trembling of the heart is also called ventricular fibrillation (quivering of the heart chambers). By applying CPR - chest compressions and mouth to mouth resuscitation, you will be maintaining the supply of oxygen to the brain, thus preventing the patient from possible brain damage caused by oxygen starvation. CPR is vital, but this alone will not stop ventricular vibration. The only effective way to do this is with prompt defibrillation of the heart. Defibrillation of the heart will suppress the chaotic rhythms and allow the heart to resume its normal beat. The longer you delay defibrillation the less susceptible the heart will become and the lower the chances of survival.  While waiting for the defibrillator, or for help to arrive, it is vitally important to keep up CPR on the patient.

How much time do I have to respond when someone has a cardiac arrest?
Only minutes. If CPR and defibrillation are applied within six minutes, the chances of survival are about 70%. After these six minutes, the survival rate falls rapidly. Every minute of delay will reduce the chance of survival by 10 to 12%.

I know how to do CPR, doesn’t that help?
CPR will keep the brain supplied with oxygen, thus preventing possible brain damage, but it will not restore the heart rhythm to normal.  It is important to defibrillate a patient in order to restore the heart rhythm.  Today, almost all AED training courses include CPR training courses.

What is the recommended treatment for cardiac arrest?
Defibrillation is the only treatment that has proved capable of restoring heart rhythm to normal. The administration of the shock by the use of an AED however, should always be combined with CPR, ie. chest compressions and mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

Who can experience cardiac arrest?
Anyone can at any time go into cardiac arrest, irrespective of whether they are young children, teenagers, athletes or the elderly. The risk of a cardiac arrest does however increase with age. In the case of people with heart problems, a large percentage of the victims had no (known) symptoms and were not aware that they had a heart condition.

Is cardiac arrest the same as a heart attack?
No. Both the heart attack and the cardiac arrest have to do with the heart, but they are two different problems. Heart failure is an electrical problem in the heart, a heart attack is a problem with the blood vessels that supply blood to the heart itself. Sometimes, a heart attack can trigger cardiac arrest.  It is possible to experience a heart attack without a cardiac arrest, in these cases defibrillation is not necessary.

What is cardiac arrest?
Cardiac arrest occurs when the heart's normal rhythm suddenly becomes chaotic. The heart can no longer pump blood effectively and the patient collapses, stops breathing, is unresponsive and has no detectable pulse. If an AED is used on a patient with cardiac arrest, the AED can deliver a lifesaving shock, which will restore the heart rhythm back to normal.  When used alongside effective CPR, the survival chances of the patient are dramatically increased.

Why are multiple shocks sometimes required?
The heart will not always immediately respond adequately to one defibrillation. It may therefore be necessary to defibrillate the heart several times, CPR should be continued in between shocks.

5. Technical questions

What is an AED recall and how will I know if my AED has a manufacturing fault?AEDs are manufactured in a production line, that is for the most part automated. Despite this there may be a specific part from a particular batch, which is in some cases of lesser quality. The manufacturer may, as a precautionary measure in the case of a frequent defect, recall a particular series. You will, in such cases receive a replacement AED free of charge. In extremely rare circumstances, ie. a manufacturers bankruptcy, the manufacturer may not be unable to meet this obligation. In the event of a recall, your AED supplier will notify you automatically. If you have acquired your AED in any other way. ie. second-hand, we will be unable to trace it.  You can check on the FDA website to see whether the serial number of your AED is listed at FDA recall: http://www.fda.gov/Safety/Recalls/default.htm.

My AED has been used for an emergency. What should I do?
After deployment of the AED, there are some factors that will need to be checked before the AED is ready for use again. The electrodes will always have to be replaced, they are not re-usable and the battery of the AED may need to be checked for residual capacity and replaced if necessary.  If you have deployed your AED in an emergency resuscitation attempt, we will supply free electrodes and battery (if necessary) for all AEDs purchased from us, or to any other AED owner that has a service contract with us.  If you have had to deploy your AED in a resuscitation attempt, contact us immediately with the serial number of the AED and a brief report, or ECG printout of the incident.  We ask for a report so that we can keep a record of resuscitation incidences around the country, we will, under no circumstances, share this information with any other party. This offer is for the lifetime of your AED (or service contract for non-Medisol customers), but does not include AEDs owned by medical organisations, such as hospitals or doctors surgeries.

I am looking for the technical specifications of an AED. Where can I find them?
On our website you can find these features by scrolling down to the additional information tab.

Are AEDs subject to errors of interpretation?
An AED uses complex analysis systems to interpret a patients heart rhythm. When an AED is used, in more than 95% of cases it will make the right diagnosis to administer defibrillation. In more than 98% of the cases, the AED will diagnose correctly not to administer defibrillation. This is more effective than the diagnosis that professionals can achieve.  When conducting heart rhythm analysis it is important that nobody touches the victim as this may interfere with the accuracy of the analysis.  When an AED is not analysing or defibrillating, CPR should be continued on the patient.