South Western Ambulance Service First Aid Training

AEDs save lives, but what is an AED and how do you use it?

You have probably seen an AED (automated external defibrillator) in your local village or shop, but have you ever wondered how to use it? Hopefully that time will never come but if it does, would you feel confident in using one? AEDs are designed so that no formal training is needed to be able to use them. An inexperienced person should be able to pick one up, turn it on and follow the instructions.

From our experience as first aid trainers, we have seen situations such as this where an AED has been used with no prior training and the outcome has been successful for the patient. Key links in the chain of survival are early CPR, followed by early defibrillation. An AED will instruct you on how to apply the pads to the patient, it will decide whether an early shock is appropriate and will then give you instructions in how to carry out CPR.

We have delivered AED training to employees at companies and are always pleased when companies have been forward thinking and have purchased an AED or AEDs for their workplace, so that they are fully prepared to help their colleagues if the situation arises. One of the most common concerns we are asked with regards to using an AED is ‘how will I know what to do?’ and ‘if I get it wrong, will I make it worse?’. There shouldn’t be anything to worry about as an AED is a bit like a Sat Nav, directing you to take the next step. There are different types of AEDs, with different voices, but they all clearly speak the instructions to the user. Because of the instructions you are given, it is difficult to get it wrong and as added peace of mind, if you don’t follow a step outlined in the initial application of the pads, the machines won’t move on to the next stage and will continue to repeat the instructions until you have done it. In terms of ‘can you make the situation worse?’ the simple answer is no, absolutely not. We have seen time and time again that AEDs save lives. So hopefully you can see that with full spoken instructions provided by the machine, there is nothing to be concerned about and the patient is likely to have a better chance of survival if an AED is used.

AED Training

We are pleased to now be including the use of an AED in our First Aid at Work and Emergency First Aid at Work training courses and we would encourage anyone who would like to learn how to save a life to attend. Those who attend our training sessions leave feeling confident knowing not only that they can help a colleague in need of resuscitation in their workplace, but that they can transfer these skills outside of work, either to help save a loved one, or a stranger that is in need. As an added bonus, you will be trained by ambulance clinicians and first aid instructors who apply their real-life skills and experiences when teaching you and we are proud to say that the profits we make on our courses are invested back into South Western Ambulance Service. 

We have recently been told that first aid training will now be included in the national curriculum, which will make more children aware of the importance of early defibrillation and a basic understanding of how they work, which is fantastic news!

If you would like to learn more about using an AED, we would highly recommend attending our Defibrillator Awareness course, which will give you the skills and confidence to carry out basic life support, using and AED until the ambulance service arrives. For more information please browse our webiste, email us at or call us on 0300 369 0350 and one of our friendly team members would be happy to match you with the best course for your needs.

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We teach delegates throughout South West UK, including Devon, Cornwall, Dorset, Gloucestershire, Somerset, Wiltshire, Bristol and Bath.

Our address is:

Abbey Court
Eagle Way

Phone: 0300 369 0350