Isn’t it about time we standardised international defibrillator signage?

The Community Heartbeat Trust (CHT), a charity whose aims are to help and support communities in the correct provision of defibrillators, but in sustainable, resilient and governance led manner, is calling for continuity and simplicity in defibrillator signage, and the full adoption of ILCOR AED signage (shown here) throughout the UK.

In the UK there are currently at least 13 different signage types and designs being used for a defibrillator. Throughout the rest of Europe, this has pretty well standardised now on the ILCOR signage. Standardised signage means less confusion in a time dependent rescue, and helps people instantly recognise locations of equipment.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has recommended standard signage for fire, emergency exist, first aid, electrical safety, yet the plethora of signage for defibrillators makes this a potentially confusing area. In international locations, such as airports, which have a statistically higher prevalence of OHSCA, you would think standard internationally recognisable signage is important. Yet at Heathrow, London’s premier gateway, there are multiple signage types, and also mostly hidden or poorly visible, causing potential delays in obtaining a defibrillator. This contrasts sharply with airports on the continent.

In a study in November 2020, it was shown that most current defibrillator signage is non-compliant to standards. In addition, it was demonstrated that the BHF signage was only recognisable by around 20% of the population compared to over 96% for the ILCOR signage (Study by CHT of 949 respondents).

Martin Fagan, National Secretary of CHT, said, “The study showed that the UK lags far behind other countries in defibrillator signage, and in a stressful situation, ease of recognition is important. The European Resuscitation Council has made positive statements about standardisation on the ILCOR signage to avoid such confusion, particularly in areas where there is international travel, such as airports, conference centres, and shipping. This is about saving lives.”

CHT has called upon all suppliers, councils, RCUK, NHS and also manufacturers to agree to use the International ILCOR signage for defibrillator placement.