The latest Adult Basic Life Support (BLS) guidelines support the inclusion of the use of the automated external defibrillator (AED), as part of basic life support (BLS). Emphasis on the provision of early defibrillation as part of BLS acknowledges the importance of this manoeuvre in the successful termination of ventricular fibrillation. The ramifications of such changes for both first responders and organisations implementing the guidelines should not be underestimated. Issues relating to resourcing, content and duration of training and retraining, auditing and evaluation require further exploration. To consider these issues now seems particularly pertinent, given the recent launch of the UK Government's paper on public health, 'aving Lives - Our Healthier Nation' which seeks to deploy AEDs in busy public places for use by trained members of the lay public. Additionally, defibrillation has been identified as one of the key competencies that all trained nurses and other health care providers should be able to undertake. This paper will consider the background to the current guideline changes, analyse the wider implications of translating the recommendations into practice, and offer possible solutions to address the issues raised. Whilst the analysis is particularly pertinent to the United Kingdom, many of the issues raised have international importance. © 2002 Elsevier Science Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.
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