Fears over defibrillators prevent their use in the workplace

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Many heart defibrillators in UK workplaces would not be used in an emergency because of misplaced fears and lack of staff education, according to a survey published in February by defibrillator manufacturer DOC UK.

The poll of 2,000 people found just 15% reported that they had defibrillators in their workplaces.

Of those 15%, fewer than half reported that they knew how to use the defibrillators and 11% said that while they had been trained in using them, they would still not use one in a genuine emergency because of a lack of confidence.

Vincent Mathieu, managing director of DOC UK, said: “With 124,000 heart attacks a year in the UK affecting people of all ages and physical conditions, defibrillators are essential equipment. However, they do no good if they are not used. It’s vital that companies have an on-site defibrillator that their staff will be confident to use in case of an emergency situation.”

More than six respondents in 10 were concerned about injuring the casualty or being held liable if something went wrong, and 11% worried they might accidentally electrocute someone who was in fact well. One-third said they would not use a defibrillator under any circumstances.

When asked how they would respond if a colleague appeared to be having a heart attack, just 10% of those surveyed said they would use the defibrillator first.

The most common response, given by 41% of respondents, was that they would call an ambulance, attempt to find the company’s first-aider, ask any colleague to take over or ask others what to do – all before eventually using a defibrillator.

Yet, as DOC pointed out, none of these reactions would be as effective as providing immediate defibrillation to the person in distress.

In a separate study, a survey of 1,000 employers by the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health has found that more than half – 513 – did not have the lifesaving equipment at work. Almost two-thirds of those who said they did not have a defibrillator were from medium to very large companies, it added. Of the 327 small companies, just over 60% said they did not have a defibrillator.

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