Automated external defibrillator

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An automated external defibrillator(AED) is a light weight, battery operated, portable device that can check heart rhythm and send an electric shock to restore normal rhythm if needed ("What is an," 2011). The chances of survival after a cardiac event diminish by 10 percent for each minute without the use of an AED ("Automated external defibrillators," 2011). In fact, the victim’s best chance for survival lies within the 4 minute mark after the event had occurred. Overall, the American Red Cross estimates that 50,000 lives could be saved each year if AEDs were more used ("Automatic external defibrillators," 2012).

AEDs are advantageous in several ways. If an AED is present, any bystander could grab it and easily connect it to the victim to assess the heart rhythm. If the AED perceives that the heart rhythm can be treated with a shock, the AED automatically sends an electrical current to the heart. This shock briefly stops the electrical signal that is preset in the heart which can reset the heart’s electrical current therefore resetting the rhythm and saving a person’s life.

Any place can have an AED and it can even be bought for home use. All AEDs on the market are FDA approved and work reliably. This makes it easily accessible to the public with the exception of its cost. Additionally, an AED can be used on any adult and children as young as 8 weighing at least 55 pounds (Mayo Clinic Staff, 2011). AEDs use visual and voice prompts to guide the rescuer through the use of the device. All devices have electronic self-tests to test their own circuitry and batteries regularly therefore allowing the AED to tell you if it is ready to use. Finally, they all come with 5-year manufacturer’s warranty ("Aed - defibrillators," 2011).

Training for use of an AED is highly recommended. It is simple and easily available to the general public. Training will walk the rescuer through the four universal steps of using an AED. The first step is to power on the AED. This starts the voice prompts that provide the directions for every step to follow. Step two is to attach the electrode pads to the victim. A picture is placed on the AED with directions to visually demonstrate where to place the pads and directions are written on the pads. The third step is to analyze the rhythm of the victim’s heartbeat. During this step it is important that no one is touching the victim. The final step is to clear the victim and administer the shock by pressing the shock button. Be sure that no one is touching the victim when the shock button is pressed. In many cases, the AED itself can detect if the victim is not clear and will loudly state clear the patient again. The victim should be analyzed again after the first shock is performed ("Part 4: The," 2012).

AEDs are critical. It is estimated that 95% of all cardiac arrest victims die before reaching the hospital. 60% of these people could have been saved if an AED was used. In a cardiac emergency without the presence of an AED, the average response time for emergency personnel is about 12 minutes according to the American Heart Association. Permanent damage to the brain and body occurs after only 10 minutes without oxygen (Cardiac Science). Of those victims that are taken to the hospital for care after a cardiac event, 5% or less are successfully resuscitated and discharged alive ("Interesting aed facts," 2003).

Because AEDs are vitally important in the rescue process, they have become one of the most important steps in the American Heart Association’s “Chain of Survival.” The “Chain of Survival” is a four step process for response when a cardiac issue arises. Recognition of the symptoms and contacting emergency personnel is the first part of this chain. The second step is early CPR until an AED is available. The third step is early defibrillation with an AED. This step is one of the most important steps in the chain that can truly make the difference between life and death. The final step is early advanced medical care ("Chain of survival," 2008).


AED Shocking Information AED or Automated External Defibrillator is a portable device that both diagnoses and treats cardiac arrhythmias. It treats these disorders through defibrillation. Defibrillation sends a shock through the heart which causes it to stop and then reestablish or reset an effective rhythm ideally. Despite the complicated technology in AEDs, they are very easy to use. AEDs are simple to understand with both audio and visual prompts, however AED certification is an important skill in life-threatening situations. AED certification classes through the Red Cross can be found on their website by simply putting in some information on the type of certification you would like. They offer two types of AED certification: Lay Responder and Professional certifications. Many first aid, first responder, basic life support, and CPR courses also certify in AED. 34% of people who have implemented an AED have used it at least once to save a life. With heart attacks and heart disease complications being such a big part of our community, it is so important to have an AED readily available with someone who knows how to use it. When present, AEDs can greatly reduce the time between the heart event and treatment (shock). The less time between those two, the greater the chance that the person will live. Without AED intervention, every minute after a cardiac event chances of survival decrease by 10%. Over 300,000 Americans die of sudden cardiac arrest every year. Up to 50,000 of those could still be alive if someone on scene had been trained in First Aid/CPR and if an AED had been readily available. AED availability along with trained individuals can save lives. Make sure your place of employment is equipped with an AED and a training program for its use. Knowledge really can change lives.

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