UK Guidelines – Changes to Resuscitation

Changes to Resuscitation guidelines

30 Jun UK Guidelines – Changes to Resuscitation

Changes to Resuscitation Council UK guidelines on cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) in October 2015 mean that HSE will now be revising the Emergency First Aid and First Aid at Work syllabuses.

The revision will require all workplace first aiders to be trained in the use of an automated external defibrillator (AED) from the 31 December 2016, as the Resuscitation Council UK guidelines now state that the management of a casualty requiring CPR is to request an AED.

It is sensible to ensure that EFAW and FAW first aiders are trained in AED use as they are now available within many workplaces and public spaces.  There is good evidence that the early use of an AED has a far more beneficial outcome for the casualty than if that intervention is delayed.

What are the advantages of AED?

  • First few minutes are critical for survival after cardiac arrest and CPR and defibrillation (where appropriate) are required ASAP, not just survival depends on this but also degree of brain damage in survivors.
  • Statistics are hard to come by but in England in 2013 there were about 28,000 out-of hospital cardiac arrests, only about 20% were in ventricular fibrillation (VF) when emergency teams arrived; 80% occurred at home and 20% in public places (about 5,600 cases) (all figures from British Heart Foundation).
  • AED detects VF (the shockable rhythm) automatically so no harm can be done when there is a cardiac arrest.

Who should purchase an AED?

The requirement for a defibrillator is still dependent on your needs assessment.  Neither do you have to retrain all your existing first aiders as they will be updated in this skill when they re-qualify.

Factors to consider for your risk/needs assessment?

  • Public places where many people congregate: e.g gyms or supermarkets
  • Known populations at risk
    • Elderly
    • People with existing heart problems
    • Previous cardiac arrest
  • Workplaces with risk of electrocution/ chemical accidents where cardiac arrests could ensue.


Other factors

  • Organisational philosophy
  • Available access to existing emergency facilities/ nearest A&E
  • Sharing defibrillator access (and cost and maintenance) with other organisations
  • Budget constraints (purchase cost £1000 to £1500)
  • First aider training and availability
  • Maintenance of equipment
  • Easy access to equipment!