Public Access Defibrillators

Every week in Scotland, around 70 people have a cardiac arrest at home, work or in a public place.

Starting CPR as soon as possible will give the person the best chance of survival, but being able to use defibrillator within the first few minutes of collapse increases that chance even further.

That’s why we’re working with communities across Scotland to increase the availability of Public Access Defibrillators.

St John Scotland Community Defibrillator Scheme

We help save lives across Scotland by providing advice, training, and funding to communities wishing to install a Public Access Defibrillator.

If you are a community group, charity or individual looking for support to install a defibrillator in your area, we can help.

Three people pose with a defibrillator

Through our Community Defibrillator Scheme we will:

  • work with you to establish the best location for a defibrillator in your local area
  • set you a fundraising target of £1,000 for a defibrillator and external storage cabinet, and we will cover the remaining costs
  • offer advice and support around installation
  • offer free CPR and defibrillator training in the community after installation.


A St John Scotland volunteer demonstrates a defibrillator to a man

Community Defibrillator Scheme

Apply for help from our Community Defibrillator Scheme

If you are in Edinburgh and the surrounding areas, you can get help with defibrillators through our St John and the City Defibrillator Project.

Frequently Asked Questions

Defibrillators need to be checked on a monthly basis to make sure they are in working order and ready to be used in an emergency. All defibrillators provided through St John Scotland must be registered with the Circuit, the national defibrillator network used by the Scottish Ambulance Service to locate the nearest available defibrillator. Once registered on the Circuit, you will be sent a reminder every month to check the equipment. Defibrillator batteries need to be replaced around every five years, and chest pads replaced whenever they are used, or when they reach their use-by date.

A defibrillator which is being installed outside so it can be accessed 24/7 needs to be stored in a special cabinet. The cabinet has a heating element to protect the defib from cold temperatures, so it requires an electricity supply and an electrician to fit it. You may find a willing local electrician who can support the community by installing the cabinet for free. The ongoing electricity costs are minimal.

Modern Public Access Defibrillators are designed so that any member of the public can use them in an emergency, with no training required. When switched on, they will read aloud instructions to the person using them. We do, however, find that it helps for people in the community to be able to see a demonstration of how a defibrillator works. St John Scotland volunteers offer free CPR and defibrillator training as part of our Community Defibrillator Scheme.

No – a defibrillator will only provide an electric shock if the person it is being used on is in cardiac arrest. It won’t give a shock to a healthy person.

No – a heart attack and cardiac arrest are different. With a heart attack, the person is most likely to be conscious, and probably in pain. In cardiac arrest, the person will be unconscious and not breathing normally. Defibrillators will only help someone who is having a cardiac arrest.

The model of defibrillator may vary, as we continually review suppliers and models to ensure value for money. The current model we provide is the iPad SP1, manufactured by C U Medical.

A defibrillator will be most useful where it can be most easily accessed, 24/7 in an emergency. So we encourage those interested in providing defibrillators to make them available outside buildings wherever possible. We can offer advice about the best place to site a defibrillator in your community – please get in touch:

Yes, we can provide support and advice to help you reach your fundraising target, as well as marketing materials to raise awareness of your defibrillator appeal.

More information about defibrillators

If you are interested in providing a Public Access Defibrillator, you may also find it helpful to read the Scottish Government’s guide to defibrillators:

Our other services

Find out what else we do in Scotland:

Patient Transport

CPR Training

Community First Responders

A St John Scotland volunteer drives a car with a patient in the back seat