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  • Richard Rattan

What is an AED and How is it Used?


Understanding Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs)

An Automated External Defibrillator (AED) is a portable medical device designed to diagnose and treat sudden cardiac arrest (SCA). It does so by analyzing the heart's rhythm and, if necessary, delivering an electric shock to help the heart re-establish a normal rhythm. AEDs are user-friendly and can be found in many public places like office buildings, stadiums, and theaters, making them accessible in emergencies.

How Does an AED Work?

Recognizing Cardiac Emergencies

AEDs are specifically used to treat sudden cardiac arrest, a condition where the heart suddenly stops beating effectively due to erratic electrical activity. The device is capable of detecting two critical heart rhythms: ventricular fibrillation and ventricular tachycardia. If the AED identifies one of these rhythms, it will prompt the user to deliver a shock to the heart. This shock can stop the chaotic activity, allowing the heart to reset to its normal rhythm.

Using an AED

  1. Turn on the AED: Most devices will provide visual and audio prompts to guide the user through the process.

  2. Attach the Pads: Expose the person's chest and attach the AED pads as instructed—usually one pad on the upper right side of the chest and the other on the lower left side.

  3. Analyze the Heart Rhythm: The AED will automatically assess the heart's rhythm to determine if a shock is needed.

  4. Deliver the Shock if Advised: If the device advises a shock, ensure no one is touching the person and press the shock button. After delivering the shock, continue CPR until emergency responders arrive or the person shows signs of life.

When Should an AED Be Used?

Appropriate Situations

AEDs should be used when a person shows signs of sudden cardiac arrest, which include collapse, loss of consciousness, and unresponsiveness. Immediate use of an AED in these situations can significantly increase the person's chances of survival by restoring normal heart rhythm quickly.

Situations to Avoid

Do not use an AED on a person who is conscious and has a heartbeat. Additionally, ensure the person is not in contact with water or metal surfaces when using the device to avoid unnecessary risks. Always follow the AED’s instructions and check for responsiveness before deploying the device.

Can AEDs Be Used on People of Any Age?

Adults and Children

Although the procedure varies slightly, AEDs can be used on adults and children. If available, pediatric pads and settings should be used for children, especially those under 8 years old or weighing less than 55 pounds. These pads adjust the energy level to ensure it is safe for a child's smaller body. If pediatric equipment is unavailable, adult pads can be used, but they should be placed correctly to avoid overlapping.

Benefits of Having AEDs in Public Places

Having AEDs readily available in public places can save lives by providing immediate treatment during the critical moments of a cardiac emergency. Their presence in workplaces, schools, and public venues ensures that help is always nearby, potentially reducing the time it takes for emergency responders to arrive and administer lifesaving treatment​.

Understanding the importance and proper use of AEDs is crucial in responding effectively to sudden cardiac arrest. For more information on AEDs and how to use them, contact Safe Health Educators at 516-867-1950 or use the contact form on our website. Ensuring you are prepared can make a significant difference in an emergency, potentially saving lives.

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