Defibrillators Save Lives - Myths Debunked

Emergency Care

Tammy George

man being saved by a defibrillator

Defibrillators are becoming more common. You will see one at the shopping centre, near the local pool and in workplaces but there are misunderstandings and myths surrounding defibrillators and how they work.

Myth #1 – A defibrillator jump starts the heart

A defibrillator stops the heart to allow the heart’s natural back-up to take over and return it to normal sinus rhythm. The sooner you use a defibrillator, the greater the chance of survival.

Myth #2 – You need to be trained to use one

Defibrillators are designed to be used by any adult with or without any medical training. The defibrillator speaks to the user giving clear instructions on what to do next. There is no need to read instructions or wait for qualified help to arrive. Jump in and start using the machine to improve the patient’s survival rate.

Myth #3 – Defibrillators are too expensive for most workplaces

The cost of machines has reduced in price since they were first introduced. There are hundreds of defibrillators located in workplaces around Australia today. If your workplace has one, ask where it's located and tell your colleagues. Don’t assume the first aid officer will always be there at the time of an emergency.

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Myth #4 – Defibrillators can be harmful

If a patient does not need a defibrillator, the machine will not allow you to shock them so you can’t do any harm. If you aren’t sure if a patient needs a defibrillator, attach the pads to their chest without delay, and the machine will tell you what action to take. What is far more harmful is not using the defibrillator.

Myth #5 – A defibrillator will save anyone who suffers a heart attack

Unfortunately, there are many factors at play, but a heart attack sufferer’s chance of survival is improved with a defibrillator than CPR alone. If you can attach a defibrillator within three minutes and they are in a shockable rhythm, their chance of survival is 74% compared to 6% without a defibrillator.

Myth #6 – Defibrillators aren’t required in areas serviced by an ambulance service

Emergency services are an important part of a patient’s survival, but it is rare that an ambulance will be on scene within a few minutes of someone suffering a heart attack. If a defibrillator is used while emergency services are on their way, the greater the chance, the patient will survive.

HIF Ambulance Cover Health Insurance

Some health insurance companies in Australia charge an additional fee for ambulance cover. At HIF we believe ambulance cover should be included in your policy. So if you take out Saver Options, Special Options, Super Options or Premium Options Extra Cover, you’ll be covered for an unlimited urgent ambulance at no extra cost, and non-urgent ambulance for a small $50 co-payment.

Please note:

Benefits are not payable for inter-hospital transportation except for inter-hospital transfers relating to an emergency or new illness where approved on a case by case basis by HIF.

Benefits are not payable for transportation from a hospital to your home, nursing home or another hospital, or for transportation for ongoing medical treatment.

Benefits are not payable for off road or air ambulance.

Tammy George

Please note: Tammy's blog is general advice only. For further information on this topic please consult your healthcare professional.

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