You may have been out and about somewhere and wondered how you would know where your nearest defibrillator is if you needed to access one. You may have recently also made the important investment of purchasing a defibrillator for your place of work, community or home, and are wondering if you need to ‘register’ your device. There are apps such as GoodSam and local resources that may be able to help you locate the nearest defibrillator in your area, but as you can imagine, there are logistical difficulties in ensuring every defibrillator that exists in the UK is accounted for, as registration isn’t mandatory. There may also be restrictions around when a defibrillator is accessible, for example, an office defibrillator may only be available for use during certain hours of the day.
In an ideal world, all defibrillators would be registered with your local ambulance service so that they are aware of the location of your defibrillator, and can direct people to it if yours is the closest one in an emergency situation. The British Heart Foundation has been working alongside all the ambulance services in the UK to create a national database, with the aim of recording every defibrillator in the UK so that there is a comprehensive record of defibrillators that are available for public use. This national network is called The Circuit, and we would advise that you ensure your device is registered on it if possible. A defibrillator is no good to anyone in an emergency if it’s locked away and inaccessible, and it’s important that no time is wasted in trying to locate the nearest one.
The Circuit - How it works
It’s a simple process to get your defibrillator registered on The Circuit. All you need to do is set up an account and register your device - you will need to provide some more information about your defibrillator, including:
- Its location - including any details the ambulance service may need to know about its accessibility. This includes the hours which the defibrillator is available for use - for example, if it’s locked away inside a building and is only going to be accessible Monday to Friday during 9-5 working hours, the ambulance service would need to know this, so that they don’t direct somebody to it on the weekend when it can’t be accessed. If your defibrillator is kept in an outdoor heated cabinet, then it can be accessed 24/7. If your cabinet is a locked one, the ambulance service will of course need to know the access code. You will also need to remember to update these records if anything changes, for example, if you used to keep your defibrillator indoors, but now you have had a cabinet installed so that it can be accessed 24/7, make sure you update your records so the information is as accurate as possible.
- The brand, model and serial number of your device - it’s a good idea to keep a note of this information for your own records as well.
- The expiry date on the pads and battery - this is usually printed on the packaging of the pads, and on the back of the battery if your battery and pads are separate. If you have a HeartSine, LIFEPAK CR Plus or any defibrillator which uses a combined pad-pak, there will still be date for you to make note of. It is also a good idea to assign somebody to regularly perform visual checks on the defibrillator, to ensure it is displaying the ‘rescue ready’ indicator. This just means that the defibrillator is good to go in the event of a cardiac emergency.
If you have already registered your device with your local ambulance service, you will still need to register it with The Circuit so that it can still be used in an emergency. If you registered your defibrillator with the Scottish, Welsh, Northern Ireland, West Midlands or East Midlands ambulance services, there may already be a record of your defibrillator as some data has been uploaded to The Circuit from existing records. In this case, you just need to ‘claim’ it and make sure all the information provided is up to date.
In order to ‘claim’ your defibrillator, when you enter a valid postcode and select the address of the defibrillator location during the registration process, a list of unclaimed defibrillators will be shown. If you had registered your device with an ambulance service previously, it will appear in this list as ‘available.’ When you select your defibrillator, some of the information fields will be populated with the information held by the ambulance service when you first registered the device, so you just need to make sure the information is still correct.
Remember, while there is no obligation to register your device on The Circuit, it is strongly recommended so that your local ambulance service can direct people to it if yours is the closest one in an emergency situation. It’s estimated that defibrillators are currently being used in less than 1 in 20 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests so chances to save a life are currently being missed. Your defibrillator could be one that is used, and could help save a life one day.
If you would like more information about The Circuit, you can view ful FAQ’s here.