Many nurses will be familiar with the defibrillator on a resuscitation trolley in hospitals but may be less confident to use one as part of a resuscitation attempt outside of the hospital setting. This article, the second in a four-part series on basic life support, describes how to use an automated external defibrillator. More than 30,000 people in Britain every year have a cardiac arrest in the community (British Heart Foundation, 2014) – 73% of out-of-hospital cardiac arrests happened in private locations (at home or in care homes) and 27% occurred in a public place.

This series provides an update on basic life support for out-of-hospital cardiac arrest and adheres to Resuscitation Council UK (RCUK) guidance by Perkins et al (2021). In the UK, there are no legal restrictions on using an AED. A rescuer, whether a trained first aider or an untrained member of the public, who has acted to the best of their ability to help a person in cardiac arrest, should not be sued when using an AED, no matter what the outcome.

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