To better prepare you, it’s a good idea to know what is an AED and how is it used. Research shows that 69% of the total number of sudden cardiac arrest cases outside the hospital occur at home, while in random public areas – 18%. Most states in the US identify sudden cardiac arrest as a general health threat to all Americans, and they put a lot of effort into treating it accordingly.
Some states promote CPR and AED assistance at schools. Some states even integrate it into the curriculum because the survival rates jump high when providing CPR and AED within the first minute of cardiac arrest.
Ultimately, public spots with a tipping number of cardiac arrest cases have AED devices nearby, but it is important to use them properly. In this article, we offer details on AED and support it with facts and statistics to point out the importance of reacting in time.
What Does AED Mean?
AED is short for Automated External Defibrillator, a device used to save sudden cardiac arrest victims by delivering shocks or defibrillations that put the heart in rhythm again. Simply put, AEDs are the devices we see in movies that revive people in critical conditions.
The US has over 350,000 sudden cardiac arrest cases. An AED is the only device that can help and effectively increase survival chances. According to the Red Cross organization, every emergency team has approximately 8-10 minutes to arrive at the scene, and with every minute, the survival rate chances reduce by 10%.
Although they appear complex to handle, they have a user-friendly interface so everyone can use them. However, responsibility is the more tricky and challenging part. Every person that provides CPR or AED is responsible for the person’s life. We refer to that anyone using AED should have at least one CPR and AED certificate. The responsibility is high and handling an AED requires relevant training and certification.
Lastly, regardless of providing CPR and AED, you should always remember to call 911 and wait on the scene until the first response team arrives to take over the case.
Who Performs AED?
Part of knowing What Is an AED and How Is It Used, is also understanding who performs it. In most cases, it is the medical personnel, emergency staff, or first responder teams that usually provide CPR and AED to a casualty at the scene. However, the point is to understand providing first aid, CPR, or AED as a collective responsibility.
Therefore, despite the apparent responders of AED and CPR, non-medical people or civilians can efficiently perform AED and CPR and save people’s lives thanks to the sophisticated AEDs. The devices are super easy to use, so you can successfully help a person in need simply by learning how to perform CPR and use the AED.
The use of the AEDs is simplified. They guide you through all the required steps. For example, take the AED electrodes and attach them to the victim. the AED will instantly pick up information about the victim’s heart rhythm and analyze the situation. If the victim needs defibrillation, the AED will inform the rescuer to press the shock button.
Once the shock is delivered, it will instantly put the heart in regular rhythm, allowing it to continue seamlessly. The civilian providing AED will know when to give defibrillation or a shock when a voice message from the AED activates. Some older AEDs don’t have the voiced message feature, but they provide the rescuer with information through a text message. In both cases, rescuers only have to follow the guidelines.
In general, AEDs are easy and safe to use. However, as the rescuer bears the responsibility for someone’s life, everyone must know how to use them properly.
The Good Samaritan Law
The Good Samaritan Law plays an important part and serves as an immunity to all civilians who provide first aid in good will but face unfortunate results. All states in the US have this law, but for the bystander to be entitled to the law, they have to:
- Act in good faith
- Bring reasonable decisions
- The victim approves of getting help
- The victim is in imminent danger
If bystanders complete these four main components of the Good Samaritan Law, they are safe from any lawsuits if they lose the victim.
The Seven Steps of Using AED
To better understand What Is an AED and How Is It Used, you must know the seven steps. The American Red Cross organization suggests abiding by the following seven steps when providing first aid and using AED.
Always remember that the first step when providing first aid is to check for responsiveness. You can do that by:
- Shouting their name: To check if they are conscious;
- Checking their pulse: To confirm whether they underwent cardiac arrest;
If the person is not responding, you should immediately continue to the second step. In the meantime, you should ask someone else to call 911.
Prepare the AED
After getting someone to call the emergency staff, power on the AED immediately and prepare the person so that you can check their heart rate. Once the AED picks up information about the person’s heart rate, it will further direct you on how to proceed. All you have to do is follow the instructions of the AED carefully.
Prepare the Victim for the Shock
Automated External Defibrillators are safe when used properly. Before using the defibrillator, the rescuer must remove the clothes from the person’s chest and place the pads accordingly. Additionally, the chest or the place where you will place the defibrillators must be dry, so wipe it if not dry.
After clearing the chest from fabrics and sweat, you can place the pads in this order:
- One on the chest’s upper right side
- One on the chest’s lower left side (only inches below the armpit)
It is important to remember that the pads must not touch. If your victim is young, you should place one pad on the back and the other in the middle of the chest, between the shoulders. Remember that the victim can’t be younger than 8 years and below 50 pounds to receive electric shocks.
Plug in the Cable to the AED
Most AED devices already have sorted plugins. If you are dealing with an older AED model, you should plug in the pads only after placing them on the victim’s chest. If you have a newer model AED, skip this step and proceed following the instructions.
Prepare the Victim for AED Analysis
When you ensure that the device is powered and the pads are placed as instructed above, the victim is ready for the AED analysis of the heart rhythm. However, the analysis also involves preparations.
Namely, you must ensure the following:
- No one touches the person: It may be dangerous if someone touches the victim before an electric shock is delivered.
- You must shout “CLEAR” imperatively: This is a final warning for everyone to step back.
Deliver the Defibrillation
Unless you are a medical person, you should never offer defibrillation. Follow the AED instructions as the decision to provide a shock is based on prior analysis. Therefore, trust the device.
Otherwise, if the AED determines that you have to provide a shock, you must ensure the following:
- The victim has no contact with other human beings or water;
- Shout “CLEAR!” imperatively;
- Press the shock button and deliver the shock.
Continue with CPR
Once the victim receives the shock, it is normal if the victim shows no signs of life. However, it is important to react fast and provoke the reaction from the heart.
To do so, you will have to perform CPR immediately after the shock to increase the survival chances. Focus only on providing CPR. After the fifth set of analyses, the victim should show signs of life.
Final Say: What Is an AED and How Is It Used
Automated External Defibrillators (AED) are first aid supporters to the initial CPR approach in case of a cardiac arrest or heart attack. Although they appear complicated at first, their design is sophisticated and suitable for use by civilians as well.
Since America has an alarming number of cardiac arrest cases that occur outside the hospital, with 300,000 to 450,000 cases that end up fatally, many states eagerly try to raise awareness about first aid, Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), and AED by implementing courses in the high school curriculums.
Ultimately, the key takeaway from this article is:
- A cardiac arrest victim may face severe impairments or lose their lives if they don’t receive help within the first 5 minutes;
- AED can increase the survival chances by 90%;
- Every minute counts.
Let’s make more humane choices and help the person fighting for life. This should be enough information to know the answer to What Is an AED and How Is It Used.