AED stands for automated external defibrillator. An AED is a compact device that is used to restart the heart when it has stopped beating. During cardiac arrest, proper CPR procedures should always be employed, and this includes the use of an AED. Because AEDs are essential for proper resuscitation, CPR certification online courses almost always offer AED training as part of the curriculum.

AEDs are seen all over the place. You will often see them hanging on the walls in schools and businesses. They are integrated into society so that, if someone is experiencing heart failure, a bystander can help to get their heart beating again.

AEDs are very simple devices that are easy to operate. However, it’s important to understand the basics and what to expect before attempting to use one. It’s always advisable to take a CPR certification course just in case you ever end up in an emergency situation. However, in this article, we will discuss some of the basics of AEDs to help you get started. 

What Does an AED Do?

An AED is a portable version of a defibrillator like those used in hospitals and other medical facilities. They work to get the heart beating again by administering a shock. The heart lets out electrical impulses as it beats. Thus, when the heart is no longer beating, a shock can work to get it back into sinus rhythm

These little devices are available to the public in various businesses, schools, and public gathering places. They are used by people when someone they know or even a stranger is suffering from cardiac arrest. 

AEDs are extremely important because they can get someone’s heart to start beating again while waiting for emergency personnel to arrive on the scene. Using an AED is one of the most important things you can when administering lifesaving efforts to someone suffering from cardiac arrest. 

A lot of data has been gathered supporting the importance of AEDs. Currently, there are approximately 359,400 Emergency Medical Services (EMS)-assessed events of cardiac arrest that take place out of a hospital setting every year. Unfortunately, less than 10% of these victims survive. However, if more people are trained in the proper use of AEDs and other lifesaving efforts, hopefully, this number can increase. 

In fact, Science Daily reports that chances of survival nearly doubles when an AED is used on someone suffering from cardiac arrest. However, “Less than half (45.7 percent) of cardiac arrest victims get the immediate help they need before emergency responders arrive.” 

These shocking statistics show that AEDs are extremely valuable when it comes to resuscitation efforts. However, many people are not trained in their use or even know what they are. Therefore, many people are dying each year simply due to a lack of knowledge. This is why it’s so essential to make sure that you know how to use an AED in the event of an emergency. 

When Are AEDs Necessary?

Because an AED administers an electrical shock directly to the heart, it can only be used when someone’s heart is no longer beating. If someone’s heart is operating in normal sinus rhythm and a shock is administered, the heart may stop beating. Thus, it’s important to take the time to evaluate whether or not an emergency is occurring before delivering a shock from an AED. 

To determine whether or not someone is in need of a shock from an AED, follow these steps:

  • Evaluate the Situation: Take moment to observe the person you believe is suffering from cardiac arrest. They will often make gestures that show they’re in pain, such as clutching at their chest. Sometimes, they will immediately lose consciousness and potentially fall to the ground. Tap them or shake them gently, asking if they’re ok. If they are unresponsive, then it is time to start administering CPR procedures, including using an AED.
  • Ensure Safety: Next, scan your surroundings for safety. While starting lifesaving efforts right away is extremely important, you also need to make sure that you and the victim are not in immediate danger. 
  • Designate Someone to Help: Once you are sure an emergency is occurring at that you are in a safe location, call out to someone else nearby to help you. Shout to them: “Get and AED and call 911.” If there is an AED within reach, simply grab it yourself while you start chest compressions and rescue breaths. Additionally, if there is no one nearby, call 911 yourself while administering CPR procedures. 
  • Administer a Shock: Once you have the AED, administer the shock as soon as possible. We will review exactly how to use an AED to deliver a shock in the next section.

How Do I Use an AED?

Using an AED is actually quite simple. As long as you are aware that someone is suffering from cardiac arrest, it is always advisable to use an AED, even if you’re not CPR certified. This can make the difference between life and death. 

To use an AED, follow these simple steps:

  1. Turn On the AED: Most AEDs start up automatically when you lift the lid. However, you may need to look for a power button if that doesn’t happen.
  1. Expose the Victim’s Chest: Next, expose the victim’s chest so that you can attach the AED directly to their skin.
  1. Clean the Area: If necessary, wipe off any sweat on the chest so that the adhesive pads on the AED will stick to the skin properly.
  1. Apply the Adhesive Pads: There are sticky pads attached to all AEDs that need to be placed on the victim’s chest. Position the pads so that one pad is on the upper right side of the chest, and the other is on the lower left side. The pads should be surrounding the victim’s heart. Additionally, ensure that the pads are plugged into the AED.
  1. Clear the Area: Ensure that no one is touching the victim before you administer the shock or else they will also receive it. Before you offer the shock, yell out “Clear,” and make sure that you’re not touching the victim as well.
  1. Press the “Analyze” Button: AEDs often have an “analyze” button on them. When you press it, the device will analyze the victim’s sinus rhythm to ensure that they are actually in need of the shock.
  1. Administer the Shock: If there is no “analyze” button, you can move straight to this step. Simply press the “Shock” button to administer the shock to the victim’s heart.
  1. Continue with CPR: Finally, after administering the shock, continue with chest compressions and rescue breaths until emergency personnel arrives.

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AEDs are lifesaving devices that are used in the event of cardiac arrest. Hundreds of thousands of people suffer from cardiac arrest outside of a hospital setting in America every year. That’s why it’s so essential that everyone understands the basics of using an AED. While they are very simple to operate, being confident in your skills will make you much more likely to use one in an emergency. For more information on using AEDs and administering CPR procedures, sign up for a CPR certification course today.