Defibrillators are commonly found in specialised first aid kits and in hospitals. They are generally used to regulate a heart that’s beating too slow or too fast. In case of sudden stoppage, a defibrillator can be used to jumpstart the heart, potentially saving a person’s life.
There are several types of defibrillators used nowadays, including the automated external defibrillator (AED), the wearable cardioverter defibrillator (WCD), and the implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD). Out of these, the automated external defibrillator is perhaps the most common.
It was created to help save lives in public spaces and has a very shallow learning curve. Even people with little to no training can use them on others suffering from cardiac arrest.
The external defibrillator is powered by a AED battery and is quite portable. It has sticky AED electrode pads with sensors attached to them. These electrodes are attached to a person’s chest. The sensors then relay information about the patient’s heart rhythm to a processing chip. The processing chip automatically calculates the voltage and sends the shock to the heart.
Ideally, defibrillators should be available in the workplace in case of sudden emergencies. Almost 20,000 Australians suffer from sudden cardiac arrests each year, with a survival rate of just 10%. If defibrillators are made available in public and workspaces, they could significantly improve a person’s chances of survival.
According to Australian Hearts, 30,000 citizens die each year from heart failure. According to NSW data from 2012, it was revealed that 59% of individuals who suffered from cardiac arrests were dead by the time the ambulance arrived. Almost 25% of the calls were made from workplaces, so having a defibrillator is essential.
If you are planning to train your workforce in CPR and using a defibrillator, you need to first do your research when buying one. There are plenty of different models and options available in the market. Some are basic and straightforward, whereas others come with several enhanced features too. Here is a brief guide to buying a defibrillator.
Factors to Consider Before Buying a Defibrillator
If you work in an industry with a higher risk of injury to your staff, investing in a defibrillator is imperative. Not only does it ensure the safety and wellbeing of your staff, but it also shows that you care. Having defibrillators in spaces with heavy footfall also indicates to customers that you are serious about their safety.
If you are planning to buy a defibrillator, here are the most important factors to consider.
Perhaps the biggest factor you need to consider when buying an AED is the cost of the unit. Most people only consider the upfront unit cost; but different models come with different features. You also need to factor in the lifetime ownership costs and amortize the unit based on its useful life.
For instance, if you own a defibrillator for more than 10 years, you can expect to replace the pads and the battery multiple times. Different manufacturers provide different types of pads and batteries, with variable useful lives. Essentially, if you buy a more cost-effective unit upfront, but pay more for pads and battery replacement, it will probably cost you more in the long run.
Note: In Australia, prices for automatic defibrillators start from around $1,999. These are the basic models. Depending upon the features and performance, prices are likely to increase. Brands like HeartSine, Ami Italia, and HeartStart Philips offer defibrillators at different price points. You can compare quotes from multiple suppliers before making a decision.
You also need to factor in additional costs such as certification or registration. These are needed so that first responders know where units are placed in case of an emergency. As you can imagine, defibrillators can turn out to be harmful if they are not used correctly.
In certain situations, you might be eligible for grants to pay for a defibrillator. Apart from the costs of the unit itself, you will also have to pay for the AED cabinet, additional pads, cases, and cables.
Depending upon the nature of your business, the type of defibrillator you buy will vary. For instance, if there is a higher risk of injury in the workplace, you will want to invest in a more powerful unit. There are certain questions you may want to answer before you start looking at options:
- Where will the device be kept?
- Will staff be trained on how to use the defibrillator in case of an emergency?
- Will the defibrillator be kept in housing? Where will it be kept?
- Have you identified any high-risk factors in the workplace that could damage the unit?
There are certain usability features that you would want in a defibrillator unit.
Certain defibrillator units offer voice commands, guiding users on the best way to use them. For instance, a voice may request you to “stand clear,” or “continue with CPR.”
Is the unit capable of enduring in tough conditions? For instance, if your business is located near a body of water, you need a defibrillator that’s designed for use around such conditions. Most defibrillators are encased in tough plastic housing that prevents damage to the internal components. It should be resistant to tough conditions and external elements.
A Bright Display
An important thing you need to consider when buying a defibrillator is the brightness of the display. It should be clear enough so that you can read the display under the bright sun.
Size and Weight
Size and weight are both important considerations that you must factor into your purchase. Bulkier units are difficult to move, you wouldn’t want to worry about lugging a heavier unit. Instead, choose a highly portable unit that you can easily move around.
Semi-Automatic vs. Automatic Defibrillators
A vast majority of external defibrillators come in two variants: semi-automatic and automatic. Weighing the pros and cons of each is imperative before you decide. Automatic defibrillators do not have a button that the user must press to deliver the shock. Semi-automatic variants, on the other hand, require the user to press a button to deliver an electrical shock.
Fully automatic versions are often more expensive. However, you might wonder if the difference between a semi-automatic and automatic defibrillator is significant enough to justify such a leap in pricing.
Why Choose a Semi-Automatic Defibrillator?
Semi-automatic defibrillators (AEDs) notify the user if the patient needs a shock. The user is then required to ask everyone to stay away from the patient, and then push the button that delivers the electrical shock.
The button usually flashes and is impossible to miss. The reason why you may want to choose a semi-automatic variant is that it gives the user greater control over the timing of the shock. It gives enough time to the user to ensure that nobody is touching the patient when the shock is delivered.
What About Automatic Defibrillators?
Automatic defibrillators have sensors that deliver the shock automatically as required. All the user has to do is place the pads on the patient’s chest. These units are designed with safety in mind; before the shock is delivered, a voice command requests people to stand back and there’s generally a countdown.
This gives more than enough time to people to move away from the patient. The user only has one specific job: to ensure nobody is in contact with the patient when the shock is delivered.
What Do the Two Have in Common?
While the method is delivery is slightly different, both semi-automatic and automatic defibrillators share several commonalities.
- Both types of defibrillators have sensors that only deliver a shock when a rhythm is detected. Thus, you can’t expect the unit to send an accidental shock to a person with a normal heartbeat.
- Both automatic and semi-automatic defibrillators require a user to place the electrode pads on a patient to deliver the shock.
- Depending on the model, some units provide instructions via voice. Others display text prompts on the display.
- Both units require others to not be in contact with the patient at the time of shock delivery.
Which One Should You Choose?
This one largely comes down to the people who will be using the defibrillator. An automatic defibrillator is ideal when you think the workforce doesn’t have adequate training or is likely to lose their cool during an emergency. If the defibrillator will be placed in a public area, it’s best to choose an automatic one, as they don’t require users to do much.
Many people are likely to hesitate when it comes to pressing the shock button. In moments like this, where every second is critical, an automatic defibrillator makes more sense. However, if you are going to give your staff adequate training and don’t have the budget for a fully automatic defibrillator – the semi-automatic is an excellent choice.
Shock Intensity and Power Source
Some defibrillators have rechargeable batteries, whereas others feature dedicated batteries that you have to buy directly from the manufacturer. Then, you can also choose models with replaceable batteries that you can purchase from any store. The standards for these are set by the International Liaison Committee on Resuscitation or ILCOR.
As standards change, you may want to choose another unit with a higher shock intensity. You need to evaluate after-sales support as well. Will the manufacturer send a technician to run technical updates on your unit, or will you have to send it back? If the unit needs to be reprogrammed at the company’s site, will the manufacturer offer you a replacement?
It might be a wise idea to evaluate both of these things when making a decision. When comparing different defibrillators, you may want to do some research about different manufacturers and their technical after-sales support systems.
Back when they were first released almost two decades ago, defibrillators needed to be checked manually to ensure that they were working properly. However, with the rapid advancements in technology, that has now changed.
You don’t generally need to worry as much about maintaining your defibrillator manually. Modern AEDs feature sensors that provide information to the maintenance technicians. Most manufacturers also offer maintenance coverage for units.
Poor or incorrect maintenance could increase the risk of injury and expose owners to liability. Therefore, maintenance is something that you need to prioritise. Always choose a defibrillator from a renowned manufacturer who offers convenient maintenance coverage.
Modern defibrillators are now becoming smarter by the day. They are able to send event data and usage stats along with information about consumables.
Adult and Paediatric Units
Then, you also need to consider the difference between paediatric and adult units. Adult units have larger electrode pads and deliver a greater shock as compared to paediatric units. Many defibrillators in the market today can be used on both adults and kids, so it’s important you evaluate your staff’s needs first.
If you need the defibrillator for a work environment, it’s best to choose an adult-specific unit. However, defibrillators in a school setting, for instance, should be suitable for use on both adults and kids.
Buy a Unit That Meets Standard Requirements
And finally, it’s important that you buy a defibrillator that meets the standard requirements. There are quite a few counterfeit products on the market, so you need to be very careful when doing your research. It’s always best to verify the supplier’s credentials or buy from a reputable marketplace like IndustrySearch.
Be Consistent with Training
The kind of defibrillator you buy will vary based on the requirements of your workplace, the local laws, and the working conditions. It’s imperative that you teach your workforce how to use a defibrillator in an emergency. Regular training sessions held at least once a year can go a long way in improving staff response in case someone suffers a cardiac event on-premises.
Buying a suitable defibrillator may seem confusing at first, but IndustrySearch makes it easy for buyers to compare quotes from several suppliers and choose one that best fits their needs.