Myths about owning a defibrillator

Defibrillator on a football pitch

Myths about owning a defibrillator

When you’re thinking about buying a defibrillator, it’s important to separate the myths from the facts.

Here we explore 3 common myths about owning a defibrillator. 

Myth 1: I will be held responsible if my defibrillator was unavailable when it was needed. 

Fact: If the defibrillator you look after is not available for use when needed and the person who had the cardiac arrest died, you are not responsible for their death. This is an unfortunate situation, but sometimes it’s unavoidable.  

For example:

  • The ambulance service may not have returned it after the last time it was used.
  • There may have been a problem with the supply of replacement pads.
  • The battery could have expired between regular checks.

A defibrillator increases the chance of survival, but it does not guarantee it. If the defibrillator was not available or not working, then there’s nothing you could have done.  

Myth 2: Using a defibrillator could harm the patient if it gives an unnecessary shock 

Fact: Defibrillators do not shock someone unless they detect an abnormal heart rhythm.  

You do not need training to use an automated external defibrillator. AEDs help someone without training to apply the pads and give CPR. Some AEDs also give real-time CPR feedback to help. Automatic defibrillators give a shock automatically, while semi-automatic defibrillators ask the user to press the 'shock' button.  

We'd always recommend getting some training in CPR and using a defibrillator. You can do this for free in 15 minutes with our online tool, RevivR

Myth 3: The local coroner will contact me if a person dies after the defibrillator I look after was used.

Fact: Coroners do not contact defibrillator owners as part of their investigation into a cardiac arrest. The coroner will typically contact the local ambulance service to ask for information about the resuscitation attempt.  

Do not worry if resuscitation did not work. What's important is that you tried. The emergency services hold the duty of care and will give the information needed for the coroner.

You do not have to keep any specific records to give information for a coroner’s investigation or inquest.  

Myth 4: If I leave my defibrillator in an unlocked cabinet, it will get stolen or vandalised 

Fact: Theft and vandalism are extremely uncommon.

If you’re concerned about the security of your defibrillator you can get in touch with our team by email on [email protected] or by phone on 0300 3300 3322 (option 6).