How many defibrillators do you need?

defibrillator on a wall in a school hallway

How many defibrillators do you need?

The main thing to consider is how long it would take to reach a defibrillator in an emergency. Each defibrillator should ideally be possible to fetch within 4 minutes – 2 minutes there and 2 minutes back.

If you’re walking briskly, that means the defibrillator needs to be within 200 metres of where it’s needed.  

If anyone who’s likely to be using the defibrillator has difficulty walking or uses a wheelchair, it’ll need to be closer. You should also think about how you’ll make sure the defibrillator is easy for them to access.  

How many you should buy for your community or organisation depends on:  

  • how many sites you have
  • how many people are based at each site, or pass through each site
  • the number of floors you have
  • the size of the floors/area. 

Scenario 1: one site with different floors  

Let’s imagine an organisation has a site across several floors and each floor seats around 150 people.  

It would be best to put at least one defibrillator on every floor.  

If your budget is limited, choose locations where people are most likely to see the defibrillator, such as by the lifts on the ground floor or in a staff canteen. 

Scenario 2: sites across the UK  

You may have locations all over the UK. What then?  

It’s best to have at least one defibrillator in every location. This will increase the chance of a colleague, visitor or customer surviving a cardiac arrest.  

If your budget is limited, you should prioritise locations with the most risk. That includes factories and areas with higher numbers of people passing through.  

You should also think about whether there is a publicly accessible defibrillator nearby. Does the building next door have a defibrillator? If it does, would it be easy for someone inside your organisation to get it? Is it available all the time?  

Use the Defib Finder to see if there’s a registered defibrillator nearby, where it is and when it’s available. Defib Finder can help you prioritise locations, alerting you to where it might take longer to get a defibrillator.  

For instance:  

  • you need to cross a busy street to fetch it  
  • the defibrillator is not accessible 24/7  
  • the location is rural and emergency services may take longer to reach a casualty.  

Next: Where should you put your defibrillator? →