Automated external defibrillator (AED) guidance

The critical importance of Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) in saving lives

In the critical moments following a sudden cardiac arrest, the presence and use of an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) can mean the difference between life and death. In this blog, Dr Richard Dune provides an overview of AEDs, including how they function, their importance in emergencies involving adults, children, and infants, and the best practices based on current legislation and guidelines.

Key facts and statistics

Sudden cardiac arrest is a leading cause of premature death worldwide, but with swift and appropriate use of an AED, survival rates can dramatically increase. Statistics show that if defibrillation is performed within the first 3-5 minutes of cardiac arrest, the chance of survival increases from 6% to over 74%. However, in the UK, less than 2% of cardiac arrest victims have an AED applied before the ambulance arrives. These figures underline the critical need for widespread public access to and training on AEDs.

Key definitions and operation

An AED is a portable electronic device that automatically diagnoses and treats life-threatening cardiac arrhythmias through defibrillation. An AED restores a regular heartbeat by delivering a therapeutic dose of electrical energy to the heart.

Legislation and regulations

In the UK, various health and safety regulations support using AEDs. The Health and Safety (First-Aid) Regulations 1981 mandate that employers ensure that first-aid equipment and trained personnel are present, considering workplace circumstances. This includes the provision of AEDs in certain high-risk environments. The Resuscitation Council (UK) and the British Heart Foundation also offer guidelines that support the placement of AEDs in public areas such as sports facilities, schools, and airports.

Best practices

Deploying AEDs involves more than just equipment installation. Potential responders require comprehensive training and regular drills. The best practice is for organisations to:

  • Integrate AED training as a fundamental part of their first aid response courses.
  • Ensure clear signage is posted indicating the location of AEDs.
  • Maintain and regularly check AED equipment to ensure functionality when needed.

Usage of AEDs on adults, children, and babies

The method of using an AED varies slightly depending on the patient:

  • Adults and children over 8 years or weighing over 25kg - Apply the adult AED pads and follow the device's instructions.
  • Children aged 1-8 years or under 25kg - Use paediatric pads if available. If not, adult pads may be used, ensuring they do not touch each other on the child's chest.
  • For infants under 1 year, manual - defibrillation is preferred. If an AED is the only option, use paediatric pads and apply as the manufacturer advises.

Recommendations for businesses and individuals

All businesses, particularly those in high-traffic areas, should consider equipping their premises with an AED. Staff training is equally vital to ensure their confidence in using the device. Individuals, too, are encouraged to familiarise themselves with AED locations in their communities and undergo basic training.


The availability of AEDs and trained individuals ready to use them can significantly increase the survival rates in cases of sudden cardiac arrest. As part of our commitment to health and safety, The Mandatory Training Group offers comprehensive training courses on the effective use of AEDs, tailored to meet the needs of individuals and organisations. We invite you to join us to make workplaces and public spaces safer for everyone.

Don’t wait until it’s too late. Enrol in our AED training course today and empower yourself with the knowledge and skills to save lives. Click here to learn more and register for our next training session. Together, we can create a safer environment for everyone.

Disclaimer: This blog is for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice. Always seek professional medical assistance in emergency situations.

About the author

Dr Richard Dune

With over 20 years of experience, Richard blends a rich background in NHS, the private sector, academia, and research settings. His forte lies in clinical R&D, advancing healthcare tech, workforce development and governance. His leadership ensures regulatory compliance and innovation align seamlessly.

The critical importance of Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) in saving lives - ComplyPlus™ - The Mandatory Training Group UK -

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