Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What is a Defibrillator?

A. A Defibrillator (or AED) is an easy-to-use device that delivers an electric shock to the heart of a patient when they have had a cardiac arrest.

A cardiac arrest is when the heart stops pumping blood around the body, which is often caused by an electrical problem with the heart. A Defibrillator can shock the heart back into a normal rhythm.

Every second counts when someone is having a cardiac arrest. Survival rates are extremely poor at only 3% but when a Defibrillator is used, rates can increase to up to 50% so timely intervention is essential. That’s why we want to ensure nobody in Wales is ever further than 100m away from a lifesaving Defibrillator.


Q. What is a PAD?

A. PAD is short for Public Access Defibrillator. This just means that the Defibrillator is in a public place and can be used by anyone and everyone if it is needed. This is why we always recommend that Defibrillators are kept in unlocked external cabinets so they can be accessed at all times.


Q. How can I find out where the nearest Defibrillator is?

A. The most comprehensive database is on the NHS Wales website here as all the Defibrillators we place are registered with the Ambulance Service. Furthermore, if you ever witness somebody collapse from a cardiac arrest, you should dial 999 immediately and the call handler will be able to inform you of where your nearest Defibrillator is. Why not take a look next time you are out and about to see if you can spot any Defibrillators in supermarkets, shopping centres, airports, libraries and other public places to familiarise yourself with where they are.


Q. Do I have to be trained to use a Defibrillator?

A. The short answer here is no. Defibrillators are specifically designed to be used by anyone and everyone, so you do not need training prior to using a Defibrillator. However, we know the prospect can be daunting, so we do strongly recommend that everyone learns CPR and Defibrillator training so that they have the confidence to use it, should they ever need to. Defibrillators are incredibly intelligent devices – they give voice prompts and light indicators to help you every step of the way.


Q. What if I shock someone because I don’t know what I am doing?

A. Don’t worry – the Defibrillator will NOT deliver a shock if one is not needed. The device is able to detect if the heart has stopped, or is in an abnormal rhythm. It will deliver a shock to the patient which will hopefully restart the heart back into a normal rhythm.


Q. What are the chances I will need to use a Defibrillator?

A. We hope you never need to, but with 8000 cardiac arrests occurring outside of hospital each year, there is always small chance that you could step in and save a life one day. We want to encourage as many people as possible to learn CPR and Defibrillator training, so that if the worst should happen, you will know what to do.


Q. How can I get a Defibrillator for my community?

A. You can apply for one here. Welsh Hearts can provide you will free training and ongoing support for your Defibrillator.


Q. Is it safe to use a Defibrillator on a child?

A. Yes – some AED’s such as the iPAD come equipped with a paediatric mode and pads, so it’s best to enable this if your Defibrillator has this function. If your Defibrillator doesn’t have a paediatric mode, the Resuscitation Council UK states that the priority must always be for high quality CPR and getting expert help. However, the AED can be deployed across all age groups if this is the only available machine.