Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) are widely available and BSAC has a range of courses designed to give attendees the skills and confidence to use them. Jim Watson, BSAC Safety and Development Manager explains.

For many years now BSAC has been promoting and encouraging the use of an essential piece of Resuscitation equipment. Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) have become widely available for use in an emergency in public places, and BSAC has a range of courses designed to give attendees the skills and confidence to use one. BSAC reviewed the efficacy of resuscitation techniques as part of the 2018 Annual Incident Report and found that early intervention of in-water rescue breaths, CPR, oxygen enrichment and AED use each incrementally improved success rates. 


BSAC has incorporated AED awareness throughout the training programme, ranging through:

  • Incorporation of ‘sending for an AED’ within the basic life support (BLS) protocol
  • Inclusion of basic AED awareness training within Sports Diver training
  • Inclusion of free AED awareness training 
  • Embedding further AED training within the revised Oxygen Administration and Dive Leader courses in 2023
  • Maintaining a dedicated and comprehensive AED course

Unit availability

As noted above the availability of AED units in public places means they are widely available. However, other than managed inland sites most diving takes place at relatively remote locations, especially offshore when using boats. Such locations also means that you are likely to be more remote from speedy support from the emergency services and a consequent delay in access to suitable first aid. To be effective an AED needs to be accessed quickly and the success rates for a shockable rhythm deteriorates with each minute delay.

It is established practice for groups to carry their own oxygen equipment and/or ask charter vessels if such essential safety equipment is available, given the remoteness of the location and you should consider availability of an AED.


This article provides a foundation for benefits of access to an AED and the value of training and awareness. As informed and responsible divers there are a number of things you could do to promote this further including:

  • Ensuring your own knowledge and awareness is up to date.
  • Encourage other members of your branch to gain similar awareness and training.
  • Become an AED Instructor.
  • If you are an AED Instructor run a course(s) for branch members.
  • Review the locations you dive and decide on the time it is likely to take the emergency services to attend and, if the likely time delay warrants, it encourage your club to buy an AED.
  • When checking if a dive centre has oxygen for emergencies also ask if they have an AED.
  • Ask Charter boat skippers, when booking or on a trip, if they have an AED and:
    • If they do applaud their responsible approach
    • If they don’t explain the benefits (balancing the cost against the value of saving a life)
    • If you are an AED Instructor, you could helpfully offer to deliver training for the crew if they get an AED

We owe it to all divers to encourage wider availability of AED as well as oxygen in the more remote locations we go diving.

Stay safe – dive safe

Jim Watson
Safety and Development Manager

Respect the water

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