Do you know where your nearest public access defibrillator is? The information might just save a life.
Here at CE Safety, we have investigated how many public defibrillators there are in each region of the UK. We set out to collect the latest data from British ambulance services via Freedom of Information requests to pinpoint which cities have the most and fewest of these lifesaving machines registered in public areas.
Birmingham has the most AEDs outside London
Birmingham was the city with the most automated external defibrillators (AEDs) outside of London, with 954 registered. This was followed by Belfast (616), Swansea (459), Leeds (418) and Cardiff (415).
The places with fewest are Bournemouth (10), Bristol (5), Swindon (5), St David’s (5) and Gloucester (3).
|CITY||Number Of Defibs|
|London (whole region)||6,622|
Number of public access defibrillators per capita in UK cities
When we look at how defibrillators are distributed according to population size, however, the results are quite different. The place with the most machines per person is Swansea. Despite only having 459 defibrillators registered, the city has 146 per 100,000 people. This is followed in the top five by Wolverhampton (292), Durham (121), Belfast (616) and Newtownabbey (96).
Although it has the most registered AEDs, London is way down the table in 12th place, with just 69 defibrillators per 100,000 people. Other large cities were surprisingly low on the list, including Birmingham, Leeds, Newcastle and Bradford.
|CITY||NO. OF PADS||PADS PER 100,000 PEOPLE|
|London (whole region)||6,622||69|
Number of registered total defibrillators registered to each ambulance service
The results were slightly different when it came to numbers in the ambulance services individually, which cover whole regions rather than just cities. London’s densely populated metropolis, with an ambulance that covers a wide area, has the most by far. Following that, both East and West Midlands have a substantial number more than other UK regions.
- London: 6,622
- East Midlands: 3,561
- West Midlands: 2,147
- Wales: 1,567
- Yorkshire: 1,060
- Northern Ireland: 835
- North East: 307
- East of England: 304
Comparisons to 2019’s findings
We conducted a similar investigation in 2019. This year’s findings show a surge in registered defibrillators across the UK, but the ranking of cities has altered.
Swansea has added 110 public access defibrillators to its figures in the past three years, and the city is still in the lead with most machines per 100,000 people. Belfast is the only city to remain in the top five since our first research and has added an impressive 342 AEDs for public use.
London was in sixth place in 2019, and while the number of AEDs per 100,000 has increased slightly (69 this year from 61), other places have made efforts to implement more.
Is your defibrillator on the system?
Our investigation comes at the same time as a national database has been launched in an effort to provide one central signpost for defibrillator locations. The Circuit, which has been created by the British Heart Foundation (BHF), is a place for all newly installed AEDs to be registered, so they can be found easily in the event of a cardiac arrest emergency.
The BHF suggests there may be tens of thousands of defibrillators out there, but if no-one knows where they are then they may be redundant when they are needed most.
BHF Chief Executive, Dr Charmaine Griffiths, said: “The Circuit is pioneering technology which will help emergency services direct bystanders more quickly to a defibrillator when someone collapses with a cardiac arrest. But for The Circuit to save lives, it is vital that the tens of thousands of unregistered defibrillators across the UK are put on the system.”
If you are a guardian of a public access defibrillator, registering your machine is quick, easy and free of charge. Find out more here.
How To Find Your Nearest Defibrillator
Usually, the emergency services can point you in the direction of any registered AEDs via calling 999. They are increasingly found in all public areas, such as offices, leisure centres, schools, community spaces, stations, airports and shopping centres.
Tesco has recently become the first UK supermarket to register all of its 2,190 defibrillators to The Circuit database, and government transport departments in Wales and Northern Ireland have just implemented hundreds of new machines in bus and train stations.
The push for greater access and awareness
There are more than 30,000 cardiac arrests every year, out of which only about one in 10 people survive. Immediate CPR and defibrillation can double a person’s chance of survival. Read our ultimate guide to AEDs to find out more about how to use a defibrillator and how it works.
Gary Ellis, from CE Safety, said: “Quite simply, defibrillators are lifesavers. It might seem as though some cities don’t have as many AEDs as they should, but remember that these figures probably only scratch the surface.”
“While it’s positive more and more machines are being installed, having them in place is simply not enough. We all need to know where they are in the event of a cardiac emergency, so please, please get your defibrillators registered onto The Circuit, and let’s try to get these figures up.”
“It would also be advisable for as many people as possible to be trained in how to use public access defibrillators, especially in the workplace and personnel in stations and public places. The more people know about them – and how to use them – the more people will undoubtedly be saved every year.”
Please note: London Ambulance Service covers the whole London area. East Midlands Ambulance Service submitted its findings as a total (3,561) without city breakdowns. We did not get a response from North West, South Central or South East Coast ambulance services to our Freedom of Information requests, so these regions have not been included in our findings.
We could not get any totals from the Scottish Ambulance Service, however a full list of each defibrillator and their location can be found here.