An automated external defibrillator, also known as an AED, is used in emergency situations where someone is experiencing sudden cardiac arrest. According to the American Red Cross, sudden cardiac arrest is among the leading causes of death in the United States. AEDs are small easy-to-use devices used for delivering a shock to the heart, known as defibrillation, to the affected person.
That electrical shock assists in re-establishing the heart’s proper rhythm. The two abnormal heart rhythms that an AED can recognize are ventricular fibrillation and ventricular tachycardia. Both heart rhythms can be deadly if not dealt with within a few minutes of occurring.
How does an AED work?
If this situation does occur and there is an AED nearby, make sure to remove the afflicted person from standing water or metal surfaces. Also take note not to place the AED pads on top of a pacemaker scar. Remember to remove any sort of medication patches on their chest relating to a pacemaker as well. The next step is to turn the machine on.
- Place one pad on the person’s right chest above the nipple and the other on the person’s lower left ribs below their armpit after their skin is wiped dry if needed and if excessive hair has been removed. The pads must be pressed down firmly for the machine to accurately read a heartbeat.
- Next, follow the AED prompts that show up on the screen; do not touch the patient once the AED begins to analyze the heart rhythm. If the AED prompts you to use an electrical shock and is charging, shout “Clear!” and make sure the patient is not being touched.
- Push the shock button as soon as the AED tell you to do so. If a shock is not advised by the AED, CPR should be used if the patient is not breathing or moving. Do not turn the machine off, the AED will analyze the patient every two minutes thereafter until help arrives.
Businesses and facilitates carry AED devices due to the fact that the average response time for first responders to arrive is 7-14 minutes, with 1 out of 10 instances taking 30 minutes or more. Every minute that passes without the aid of defibrillation, the chance of survival diminishes by 10 percent.
Sudden cardiac arrest can happen anywhere which is why AEDs are such a valuable first-aid resource for any facility—it can save a life. The American Red Cross offers AED/CPR training for anyone interested in becoming certified.
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