The charity, the Community Heartbeat Trust (CHT) has been in the forefront of supporting the placement of community defibrillators ever since they were deregulated in 2009. However, the keenness of communities to take up the provision of these devices has led to a plethora of different project types, styles, equipment and generally a lack of awareness of governance issues. It is estimated that some 30% of community projects are currently out of service at any point in time.

Best Practice has not featured widely in these projects, and few communities follow a standard process for installing community defibrillators, addressing the equipment, liabilities and governance. Best Practice includes the right equipment for untrained users, addressing liabilities and particular disability regulations, and building a sustainable and resilient long-term programme. 

Working with the national and leading charity, The Community Heartbeat Trust, ensure that all projects now have the possibility of long-term resilient and governance led approach that includes:

  1. A standard high specification defibrillator choice, that provides maximum support to the rescuer, has features enabling good CPR to be undertaken, allow easy access to the clinical data and are cost effective over the life of the unit, typically 10-15 years. Older designs are unlikely to have these modern features, or may not comply to the new Medical Device Regulations (MDR) due to be enacted in 2020.
  2.  A full governance programme to address all aspects of the provenance of the equipment and its support, including training records and in/out of service notifications.
  3. A full community awareness and training programme, to ensure members of the community are fully aware of how and when to use these medical devices, and to give community confidence.

An Automated External Defibrillator (AED) is a powerful device and if used correctly as part of a system of integrated events, can save a great many lives and every community should have access to one, but done with the knowledge and resilience and not just done to "tick the box".

All local government, publicly funded (via grants) or local government supplied projects should also show sustainability for at least 10-15 years. Most ambulance services now also insist on evidence of governance, and many will require a local contract to be agreed before they will activate.

There are now many defibrillators to choose from for placement into the public domain. Most members of the public will not know or necessarily understand the subtleties in the differences of defibrillator equipment. Therefore, CHT helps communities by undertaking a review of all common defibrillators, asking some 53 questions of the device in its relation to use by untrained members of the community. A score is applied and the top third are deemed as being very suitable for community use (we call these group 1 devices) 

We do the same for cabinets, applying the ShockBox marque. Whilst cabinets can be locked or unlocked, the choice should be based upon the need and local factors, and if a locked cabinet is used, it should have a marine grade, vandal resistant lock or similar - you cannot afford to have a cabinet jam in a rescue.

It is unwise to use mild steel single skinned cabinets within five miles of a coastal location, and if in Wales, Scotland, Ireland, Cornwall and some inner cities, dual language may be a requirement - for example, adherence to the "Welsh Language Act".

Government departments, or ambulance services, should not insist or misrepresent defibrillator devices due to commercial agreements or misleading NHS supply chain regulations. The best equipment for a particular situation may not be the cheapest, particularly when it comes to schools for example.

Undertaking a sustainable community project

Firstly, all aspects of the project need to be considered, including the sustainability aspects, and a full understanding of the project and a map of the process to undertake.

In the recent project undertaken by Bedford Rotary Club, an analysis of the marketplace was undertaken, consultation with the local ambulance service and parish councils undertaken to ensure the placements were not duplicating already placed resources, and an analysis of suitable equipment undertaken. In this case, the Cardiac Science G5 was chosen as this matched another project undertaken with CHT and the Bedfordshire Fire service to place G5 devices throughout Bedfordshire, thus allowing compatibility and ease of support and training. At least one life has been saved by this Rotary Project, with a successful rescue in October 2017.

Secondly, communities should also realise that community defibrillators are covered by the "Activation Radii" set by the local Ambulance service. In the East Midlands this is 500 metres, but in South West, it is only 200 metres. this can have an impact on the equipment chosen, how it is activated and also whether it is supported by a localised group of trained volunteers.

The ambulance service also will not activate a community defibrillator if there is only a lone rescuer present.

Defibrillators and children

A child in defibrillators terms is anyone under 25kg in weight. Typically, in the UK this means seven and under, although a six-year-old weighing 29Kg would be an adult. Cardiac Arrest occurs very rarely in this age group, and for community placement ambulance services recommend only using adult devices in the public domain. this reduces the liability of incorrect usage of paediatric devices on anyone over 25Kg.

Some devices such as the ZOLL AED 3, have paediatric buttons and the appropriate paediatric algorithms and thus are probably more appropriate than other devices with "child switches" that simply reduce the power of the shock.

About The Community Heartbeat Trust charity (CHT)

CHT invented the concept of the community public access defibrillator - cPAD, as well as the concept of using redundant telephone kiosks

As a national charity, working across the UK and also supporting placements in Greece, we began by setting high standards and quality at a time when everyone else was trying to just cut costs.

As such we work to a high level, ensuring communities are protected, use the right/best equipment and making sure the projects are long-term sustainable.

In addition to Rotary, we also work with the Rugby Football Union, cricket, many commercial organisations such as Mid Counties Co-op, and about 800+ town and parish councils.

To date, we have delivered approximately 4500 sites across the UK, with the vast majority governed by the WebNos Governance system, the UK's only defibrillator governance system.

We are advisors to NHS England and also the Welsh Government, and also work with all 11 of the UK ambulance services, as well as many fire and police. In 2018 we established the only governance led National Defibrillator Database in the UK (, a non-commercial free service to all. 

Sustainability - Resilience - Governance - in community defibrillation

For more information or to obtain a "Guide to Community Defibrillation" please contact us.



Please make sure you have read and understood this disclaimer - It will be assumed that you have read prior to CHT receiving any request. CHT are not responsible for your fund raising, nor your cPAD operations, but may assist in both. CHTs only aim is to support the installation of a cPAD scheme in the most cost effective way possible adhering to Best Practice, and help save lives in your community. This website, and any downloaded information, is for information only on how to go about obtaining and installing a cPAD, and other relevant information. All copyrights and trademarks are recognised. All support for the cPAD will be undertaken by the village committee responsible and via standard manufacturers warranties. Any training organisation will only be responsible for the initial awareness training and not for the functioning or maintenance of the AED. Please do not send any monies to CHT until you have registered your scheme with us, and have agreement from the local ambulance service for the establishment of a cPAD scheme. All schemes must be registered with the local ambulance service (CHT will also undertake this or you can do via this site, but this does not remove responsibility for you to notify the local ambulance service of your AED location). 999/112 (ambulance) must always be called prior to using a cPAD equipment. VAT may be applicable if your organisation is not an eligible body as defined by HMRC. All current or historical claims for VAT will be met by the local community. All schemes will be asked to sign an agreement taking responsibility for their own fund raising and donations to CHT, and then the operation and maintenance of the cPAD equipment. All CHT provided schemes will need to manage their maintenance through the WebNoS online system as a condition of CHT support. It is your responsibility to maintain the equipment in working order and to make sure the local ambulance service is aware of this. WebNoS makes this possible and also acts as an audit trail for management of the equipment. Sites provided by CHT and not using WebNoS may be disengaged from the ambulance service CAD systems. Any web site showing defibrillator locations is for information only, and should not be used in preference to dialling 999. CHT works in close cooperation with the UK ambulance services. Always dial 999 in an emergency

Registered Charity Number - 1132824