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Standard signs for AEDs

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The British Heart Foundation and the Resuscitation Council (UK) work relentlessly together to help save the lives of people who suffer an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest.

With less than 10% survival rate, the lack of life-saving intervention generally occurs because first responders, such as family members, work colleagues or people in the wider community don’t have the knowledge or confidence to intervene effectively using an Automated External Defibrillator (AED).

Following an independent research project jointly commissioned by The British Heart Foundation and the Resuscitation Council (UK), the results revealed an opportunity to improve public understanding of AEDs by redesigning the current UK AED signs.

In order to encourage the use of AEDs, the signs have been changed as follows:

  • The description has been changed to ‘Defibrillator - Heart Restarter’ – Respondents said they thought this term would most encourage them to use the device
  • The previous lightning bolt, which had similarities to the high voltage electrical equipment warning sign, has been changed to an ECG heart shape – Respondents overwhelmingly said they would be more likely to use a sign with this icon on
  • A supine person was added, showing the suggested placement of the defibrillator pads, to reinforce (by way of a strong visual cue) how the device should be used

The supporting information poster was also reviewed by experts and is consistent with the 2015 Resuscitation Council (UK) guidelines. It reinforces the following key messages about Public Access Defibrillation (PAD) and the use of an AED:

  • Anyone can use an AED – you do not need prior medical or first-aid training
  • It is easy to use – just follow the instructions
  • It is for use on an unconscious person not breathing normally

Further information about the signs can be found on the Resuscitation Council (UK) website. This work has now been peer-reviewed and published in a respected medical journal.

Both organisations plan to recommend these new signs to anyone who prints and uses them.