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Watford Rural Parish funded an external defibrillator located at our Town Hall on Oxhey Drive, next to the Police Station.

So, what is a defibrillator and when/how is it used? They are used when somebody is having a cardiac arrest. If a Defibrillator is used within 3 – 5 minutes of a cardiac arrest survival rates jump from 6% to 74%! You can confuse a cardiac arrest with a heart attack. A heart attack is when the supply of blood to a part of the heart stops, causing a part of the heart muscle to die. A cardiac arrest is when the heart, as a result of an electrical failure, stops beating completely. A defibrillator is specifically for a cardiac arrest. These are the circumstances you may have often seen on hospital TV dramas when the doctors call for the ‘crash trolley’!

Defibrillators allow users to provide high-energy, powerful electric shocks to the heart through pads which are placed on the chest near the heart. It’s the shock itself that’s called “defibrillation”.

Training for both CPR and defibrillator use is available periodically so look out for when these are publicised. However, you do not need to be trained to use a defibrillator as the unit talks you through what to do at each stage. Typically, you will have also dialled 999 and they will keep you on the line giving guidance as well as directing you to the nearest unit.

Defibrillators are used in conjunction with CPR. Once the pads are placed on the exposed chest the unit will decide if defibrillation is required, so you cannot make a mistake. There are some concerns expressed about the legal aspect of being sued. We cannot find an example where, in practice, anyone has been prosecuted for trying to bring someone back to life. Technically in these situations, the patient has stopped breathing, so how can you make it worse?

In summary then, what should you do if sudden cardiac arrest happens?

First: Call 999 The emergency services should be immediately alerted to the problem.

Second: Start CPR The emergency services will be on their way

Third: Find someone to fetch the defibrillator. The emergency services will give you a code to open the defibrillator cabinet.

Fourth: Follow the instructions given by the defibrillator