First aid can be the difference between life and death, so businesses are being urged to invest in heart-starting defibrillators to help staff and customers who have a cardiac arrest.

Around 30,000 people have a cardiac arrest each year outside of a hospital, many of these in businesses. Without defibrillation survival chances drop by 7-10% every minute*, but when defibrillation is delivered promptly, survival rates as high as 75% have been reported. If more automated external defibrillators (AEDs) are accessible then more lives could be saved and this is something St John Ambulance believes businesses can help society tackle.

Prior to 18 October the advice from Resuscitation Council UK was that training was needed to use defibrillators but over time the machines have become simpler to use with voiced instructions talking bystanders through the procedure. The new resuscitation guidelines now advise that anyone can use an AED without training, although training is still encouraged.

St John Ambulance proposes that businesses have at least one purchased or leased defibrillator that is accessible to staff as quickly as possible so that they can be the difference between a life lost and a life saved in an emergency.

Richard Evens, commercial training director at St John Ambulance, says: “Every year thousands of people die of cardiac arrest when first aid could have helped them live. In fact over 700,000 working days were lost between 2008/2009 due to cardiac arrest and related illnesses**.”

“Encouraging untrained workers to use an AED to try and restart the heart, could have a dramatic effect on the numbers surviving cardiac arrest. They can then use this knowledge to save the life of a colleague, a passerby or even a family member,” continued Evens.