Choosing an AED. Which defibrillator should I buy?
There’s a huge range of defibrillators on the market – so which defibrillator should I buy is a very good question to ask. With a significant range in prices it really depends on what you’re looking for in a defibrillator. It’s fantastic that you’re looking for a defibrillator. Here’s why…
Why do I need a defibrillator?
A person’s chance of survival can decrease by 10% for every minute that defibrillation is delayed. Currently, around 8% of people survive an out of hospital cardiac arrest in the UK. The easiest way to improve this is to train more people in effective CPR and to improve access to defibrillators.
So, let’s look at the things that you might want to consider…
Clearly, price is important. But be aware that if you have an AED with an 8 year warranty for example, thinking about the cost of consumables will affect the overall price over the life of the product. Likewise, if you’re part of a Mountain Rescue Team or carrying out Event First Aid for example – there’s a higher chance of you needing to replace the pads and battery than if your AED is for an office. Therefore the cost of consumables may be more important, and the shelf life of those consumables less important.
It’s also worth noting that prices change. Shops have sales. Some models always seem to have huge discounts applied to their Manufacturer’s Recommended Retail Prices (MRRP) – meaning their MRRPs can be a little misleading. To help, we’ve added a comparison table below – including both MRRPs and what prices we’ve found on a quick internet search.
Bearing this in mind, it’s not a bad idea to see which AED might be right for you, and then searching for that model at the best price, rather than starting with price and compromising on the AED.
Semi or fully automatic
Fully automatic AEDs automatically deliver a shock to the casualty once it has analysed the heart rhythm. This means that no-one needs to press a button to deliver a shock – the AED will simply announce that a shock is to be given, to stand clear and the shock will be given. In a quiet environment, with people who aren’t familiar with the use use AEDs, this could mean a shock is delivered quickly and there can be no hesitation of bystanders to press the shock button. However, if the area is noisy, meaning these instructions aren’t heard, there’s a greater chance of bystanders being in contact with the casualty when the shock is administered.
Semi-automatic AEDs require someone to press a button to administer the shock. There is the potential this this could mean a shock is delayed.
So – which is best – fully automatic or semi-automatic? With correct training, there’s no reason why a semi-automatic AED should mean a shock is delivered any more slowly than a fully automatic AED. As they can also potentially be safer – many people may choose to buy a semi-automatic AED instead of a fully automatic one. Some AEDs are available in either option.
IP rating, stands for Ingress Protection. So, this rating tells you how much protection your AED has against dust and water ingress for example. How important this will be to your AED decision making process will probably depend on your environment. If you’re purchasing an AED for a scuba diving school – which will be being moved around on boats, sandy beaches etc. – then the IP rating is going to be really important to you. You might also want the added protection of something like a crush-proof, waterproof Peli case too. If this sounds up your street – give us shout as we can point you in the direction of where to get a custom case for your fancy new AED.
If you work in a specifically dusty environment – again, a good IP rating will be important to you. If your AED is going to be used in a gym or office, a good IP rating is going to be less important – but may still be useful if the casualty is in the company car park on a rainy day for example.
IP ratings include two numbers. The higher each number, the higher the protection:
The first number relates to dust ingress protection. The scale goes from 0-6. 0 would mean no specific dust protection. Something with a rating of 6 is completely dust tight.
The second number relates to water ingress protection. The scale goes from 0-8. 0 would mean no specific water protection. Something with a rating of 8 is watertight and can be submerged in water.
It’s worth noting that, where an ‘X’ features instead of a number, the AED hasn’t been specifically tested for that type of ingress protection.
Physical size and weight
If your AED is going to sit in a cabinet and only be removed if needed, the size and weight of the unit is unlikely to be important. However, if you’re purchasing one as a bootcamp instructor or for a Mountain Rescue or Search and Rescue Team, these things are going to make a huge difference.
As the name suggests, an AED with CPR coaching can help coach the responder through CPR. At one end of the scale this may be a simple metronome, featuring a flashing light or beep to help the responder keep the correct rate of compressions. At the other end of the scale, this can be a series of verbal prompts, offering advice on depth and recoil of compressions, as well as speed. To the occasional user or First Aider, this may be beneficial, whereas a seasoned responder may not require this.
Like anything else, it makes sense to get an AED with the longest warranty possible. Not only does this inspire confidence in the build quality of the product, but reduces cost of any replacement. Modern AEDs can have 8 year warranties.
Battery standby life and replacement cost
For the occasional user, getting an AED with a long battery shelf life can save you money and minimise the hassle of having to change batteries. Some AEDs, such as those from Zoll accept shop bought camera batteries – offering a significant saving over AED specific batteries.
Pad shelf life and replacement cost
The price and shelf life of consumables such as electrode pads may be important. Pads are single use and so need to be replaced once used. However, the pads also have a shelf life and go out of date. This is usually down to the conductive gel breaking down on the pads – which make them less effective. Pad life and replacement cost is certainly worth taking into account.
Is the AED for adults, children or both?
Some AEDs need separate pads for children and adults. Some AEDs use the same pads for both children and adults with a selector on the AED itself to choose between child mode and adult mode. Clearly, if children are never going to come into contact with your workplace – i.e. you’re looking for an AED for an offshore wind farm or an oil rig, having adult pads would probably be fine. If you’re looking for an AED for a school however, it would make sense to have either an AED with pads that can be used on both adults and children, or two sets of pads would need to be purchased. Remember, pads have a shelf life and throwing away and replacing two sets of pads each time is likely to cost more in the long run.
Check out what you get with your AED for the listed price. Does it come with a case if you need one? Does it have one set of pads or does it come with extra pads? How about paediatric pads – if needed? Does it come with a ‘Rescue Ready Kit’ – things like a face shield or pocket mask, tuff cut shears, a razor, towel etc. or are these extras?
If you’re looking for an AED for a school – the best place to start is by following this link. You may be able to purchase an AED and anything AED related through the NHS supply chain at a considerable discount. The AEDs available have been chosen specifically to be suitable for schools and if price is a factor – it’s unlikely that you’re going to get a better deal anywhere else.
New or Re-certified?
If you’re looking to save some cash, some shops offer re-certified AEDs. These are usually AEDs that aren’t new, but are sold with new batteries, new pads, a clean bill of health and a warranty.
|AED||Approximate Online Price||MRRP||Automatic or Semi-automatic||Warranty||IP Rating||Battery Shelf Life||Pad Shelf Life||Dimensions (cm)||Weight||Separate child pads required?||CPR Coaching?|
|HeartSine Samaritan 500PHeartSine Samaritan 500P||£895.00 + VAT||1555||Semi - Automatic||8 years||IP56||4||4||20x18.4x4.8||1.1kg||Yes||Yes|
|HeartSine Samaritan 360P||£695.00 + VAT||1090||Automatic||8 years||IP56||4||4||20x18.4x4.8||1.1kg||Yes||Yes|
|HeartSine Samaritan 350P||£695.00 + VAT||1090||Semi - Automatic||8 years||IP56||4||4||20x18.4x4.8||1.1kg||Yes||Yes|
|LifePak CR Plus||£875.00 + VAT||1495||Available in Auto or Semi-Auto||8 years||IPX4||2||2||24.1x20.3x10.7||2.0kg||Yes||No|
|Defibtech Lifeline||£875 + VAT||1198||Available in Auto or Semi-Auto||8 years||IP54||5 or 7||2||30x22x7||2.0kg||Yes||No|
|iPAD SP1||£995 + VAT||1295||Available in Auto or Semi-Auto||7 years||IP55||5||3||26x26x6.9||2.4kg||No||Yes|
|Zoll AED Plus||£925 + VAT||1295||Available in Auto or Semi-Auto||7 years||IP55||5||5||29.2x24.1x13.3||3.1kg||Yes||Yes|
|Phillips Heartstart SH1||980 + VAT||1070||Semi - Automatic||8 years||IP55||4||2||22x18x6||1.5kg||Yes||Yes|
|Phillips Heartstart FRx||£1195.00 + VAT||1434||Semi - Automatic||8 years||IP21||4||2||22x18x6||1.6 kg||Yes||Yes|
This isn’t an exhaustive list, but is a selection of some of the more popular AEDs available. We’ve added the Manufacturer’s Recommended Retail Price (MRRP) of each model and also the prices we found through a quick internet search. These prices will change so it’s a good idea to do an internet search if you’re looking to get the best deal.
As always, if you have questions – please get in touch. Buying an AED can be a significant (but worthwhile) investment and we’re more than happy to try and point you in the right direction.
Want to also find out where your nearest defibrillator is? Check out our other blog here: