Frequently asked questions
Do you have a question about AEDs, sudden cardiac arrest, heart attacks or any of Heart Saver’s products or services? Check below to see if it’s one of our FAQs
Q.Why do we need automated external defibrillators (AED) in the community?
A. The most common cause of out of hospital cardiac arrest is ventricular fibrillation (VF). Defibrillation is the only definitive treatment. With no CPR mortality increases by 7-10% per minute. With good quality CPR, mortality decreases to 3% to 4% per minute. At present the out of hospital cardiac survival rate in Wellington is 11.7%. This is the highest in New Zealand.
Q. When a person’s heart stops beating, why should an AED be used?
A. When a heart’s rhythm goes into an uncoordinated electrical activity called fibrillation, the heart twitches ineffectively and can’t pump blood. This condition often accompanies severe heart attacks when the patient’s heart appears to have stopped beating. The AED delivers electric current to the heart muscle, momentarily stunning the heart, stopping all activity. This gives the heart an opportunity to resume beating effectively. AEDs require very little training to use. The machine automatically diagnoses the patient’s condition, determines the current versus desired heart rhythm, and determines whether or not shock is needed.
Q. How much does an AED cost?
A. In recent times the prices of AED’s have significantly decreased, and Heart Saver NZ Limited is committed to offering top quality AED products at affordable prices. We offer purchase and finance options to suit any budget with rent to own options starting from as little as $14.50 + gst per week (based on a 60 month term). Our AED’s also have a full replacement warranty of 5 years.
Q. Why don’t we just do CPR – that restarts the heart doesn’t it?
A. Less than 1% of people are successfully resuscitated using CPR alone. They tend to be people who have drowned or have hypothermia. Most TV drama is not medically correct in this regard.
Q. How successful can AEDs be when they are quickly available?
A. When they were placed in 32 Casinos in America, over a 3 year period, the AEDs were deployed on 105 patients whose initial rhythm was VF. Survival rate to discharge from hospital was 53%. When put into Chicago airports they were used 21 times over two years. Eighteen of these patients presented in VF and 11 survived, equating to a 61% survival rate. Chicago City’s survival rate at the time was 1.8%. Between 2000-2006, 36 lives have been saved at Chicago Airports.
Q. Can anybody use the AED or do you have to be trained?
A. Training is ideal, but the rescuers involved in 6 of the successful resuscitations at Chicago’s airports had no training in AED use. The AED talked them through the stages needed to deliver a shock. Nineteen of the 21 people operating the AEDs were good Samaritans acting voluntarily. They were not airport employees or emergency staff
Q. Can children use them?
A. A study in Washington State demonstrated untrained eleven year old children could deliver the first shock in 90 seconds. When paramedics were given the same scenario they took approximately 67 seconds. The children were told there was a clothed manikin in an adjacent room and the manikin represented a cardiac arrest patient. All they were told was they would be required to peel the pads off the packaging and apply them to the manikin’s chest.
Q. Are there liability issues?
A. While Good Samaritan laws exist in most parts of the world to protect people, the AED is designed to be fool-proof. Because the machine will not charge unless its computer detects a shockable rhythm, you cannot accidentally deliver a shock to the patient.
Q. Do I need to make it clear we have an AED on site?
A. Yes, the more people that know the AED is on site, the more likely it is to be used. Often in a crisis our desire to do ‘the right thing’ is hampered by too much adrenaline and we forget things like the position of the AED because we are flustered. We may become solely focussed on chest compressions. We lose situational awareness and become task fixated. A sign acts as a visual cue we see everyday and store for later use. The e-mail about the AED sent 3 months ago will be forgotten about in the crisis. There have been at least three cardiac arrests in Auckland in the last year where AEDs were not used despite the fact they were in the building. These buildings had no signage. Fire extinguishers are signposted to save property and potentially life. An AED’s primary function is to save lives, so everybody should know where they are.
Q. How can I find out where AEDs are in my community?
A. Visit www.aedlocations.co.nz – AED Locations is a not-for-profit organization raising awareness of AEDs in New Zealand.
Q. Can you create a first aid training course just for us, with our specific risks?
A. Yes we can – we know the typical cookie-cutter course isn’t for every one and every business. Click here for more information on our customised courses.
Q. Do you have a list of what I should have in my first aid kit?
A. We sure do. Contact us and we will get it out to you.
Q. Can you break ribs doing CPR?
A. Sometimes, yes, but we’re sure the person whose life you saved will thank you for it!
Q. How often should I re-sit a first aid course? Does the information change?
A. We suggest you do it yearly. New advice does come through, but the main reason for doing it annually is to keep it fresh in your mind, so you can feel confident and competent in the case of a medical emergency.
Is your question still not answered? Share it with us below and we’ll do our best to answer it for you.