Learn first aid for someone who is unresponsive and not breathing when an AED is available

If someone is not moving and does not respond when you call them or gently shake their shoulders, they are unresponsive.

1. Check breathing by tilting their head back and looking and feeling for breaths.

When a person is unresponsive, their muscles relax and their tongue can block their airway so they can no longer breathe. Tilting their head back opens the airway by moving the tongue forward.

If they are not breathing, their chest and stomach will not be moving and you will not hear or feel their breaths.

If they are not breathing, move on to step two.

Find out what to do if they are breathing.

2. Call 999 as soon as possible.

If you can’t call 999, get someone else to do it.

3. Give chest compressions: push firmly downwards in the middle of the chest and then release.

Chest compressions help blood continue pumping around the body. This keeps vital organs alive, including the brain. Many people call this CPR, which stands for cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

4. Tell someone to get an AED as soon as possible.

AED stands for Automated External Defibrillator (defib). It is a machine that can shock the heart back into a normal rhythm. AEDs can be found in many public places.

5. Open the AED case and follow the voice prompts.

Watch how to help someone who is unresponsive and not breathing when an AED is available (3 minutes)

Common questions about helping someone who is unresponsive and not breathing when an AED is available

What is an AED (Automated External Defibrillator)?


Who can use an AED?


Where can I find an AED?


Will using an AED restart a person’s heart?


If I am alone, should I leave the person to get an AED?


If an AED isn’t immediately available, how do I help someone who is unresponsive and not breathing?


Is it easy to use an AED?


Can I use an AED on a baby or child?


 

What is an AED (Automated External Defibrillator)?

An AED is a portable machine that can shock the heart back into normal rhythm. You can find them in many public places, such as train stations, shopping centres or schools.

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Who can use an AED?

Anyone can use an AED.

The AED will only shock someone if needed – it would never shock a healthy heart. The AED will give you instructions on how to help someone if a shock is not needed.

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Where can I find an AED?

AEDs are available in many public places, such as train stations, shopping centres or schools..

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Will using an AED restart a person’s heart?

If the AED delivers a shock to the person, it doesn’t always mean that their heart will restart.

The machine will detect whether the person’s heart has restarted and give you further instructions if it hasn’t. This means you may need to resume chest compressions.

Continue to follow the AED voice prompts until help arrives.

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If I am alone, should I leave the person to get an AED?

No, call 999 and start chest compressions.

Your priority is to pump blood around the person’s body until help arrives. Call out for help and if another person arrives before the ambulance, tell them to get an AED as quickly as possible.

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If an AED isn’t immediately available, how do I help someone who is unresponsive and not breathing?

You need to act in the same way: call 999 and give chest compressions until help arrives.

Find out more about how to help someone who is unresponsive and not breathing when an AED is not available.

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Is it easy to use an AED?

Yes. The AED voice prompts will tell you what to do. You will be able to use an AED even if you have never used one before.

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Can I use an AED on a baby or child?

An AED can be used on anyone aged over a year old, but adaptations are needed when using an AED on a child.

For children aged one to eight years old, paediatric pads should be used. If paediatric pads are not available, use the standard ones, but place one pad in the centre of the child’s chest and the other one in the centre of the child’s back. Never use an AED on a baby under one year old.

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Email us if you have any other questions about first aid for someone who is unresponsive and not breathing when an AED is available.