There is no denying the importance of Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs). Survival rates rise dramatically when people begin CPR with early defibrillation by an AED. That’s why it’s so important for people to know how and when to use defibrillators. Surprisingly, there is disparity in Europe with regards to who can use AEDs and the procedures for installing the device. This could lead to confusion in times of emergency and a loss of valuable time.

Although all EU countries follow the European Medical Devices Directive, national legislations covering AEDs can differ greatly between countries. What does this mean practically? In some countries, only trained people can use AEDs, whereas in others, any member of the public can activate them in emergencies. In some circumstances, people may need to first contact the emergency call centre, whereas in others this is not necessary. Do you know how you should react in your country?

Saving time is crucial during cardiac arrest. Survival rates decrease by 10% for every minute without intervention.[1] Mapping AEDs can help to speed up the process: people can find out exactly where the nearest defibrillator is and how to access it. For instance, when someone calls the emergency services asking for help, they can direct them to a defibrillator to start intervention whilst the paramedics are on the way. Worryingly, some EU countries still do not have programmes to map AEDs. In others, it is not obligatory to report an AED to the authorities, meaning that not all AEDs are included on maps.

When an emergency happens, people need to have as much information as possible at hand in order to make an informed decision. Given that the situation can change dramatically between EU countries, EENA believes that it is important for people to understand the rules in their country. Consult the document on AED Legislation here.

The information in this document is compiled from surveys completed by the relevant authorities in each country. Is your country not included in the document? Do you have the authority to provide us with this lifesaving information so that citizens know how to react in case of emergency? Please contact Rose Michael at [email protected]



[1] Karch SB, Graff J, Young S, Ho CH. Response times and outcomes for cardiac arrests in Las Vegas casinos. Am J Emerg Med. 1998 May;16:249-53.4. and Kette F, Sbrojavacca R, Rellini G, Tosolini G, Capas-so M, Arcidiacono D, Bernardi G, Frittitta P. Epidemiology and survival rate of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest in north-east Italy: The F.A.C.S. study. Friuli Venezia Giulia Cardiac Arrest Cooperative Study.Resuscitation. 1998;36:153-9.