How AEDs Work (And Why They’re So Important)

AEDs, or automated external defibrillators, are seen all over the place. You might notice them at work or in places of business. They’re often simply hung on the wall, and many people have questions about exactly what they are. In short, an AED is a compact device which is used when someone is experiencing cardiac arrest. They are an important part of CPR procedures and can often have a huge role in saving the life of someone who is experiencing heart failure.

AEDs are extremely important to proper resuscitation, and that’s why training in the use of them is almost always included in CPR certification courses. While they are simple machines, it’s important to make sure you know when one must be used and exactly how to do so. Thus, completing CPR/AED training can be extremely useful in ensuring you have the knowledge necessary to assist someone who is suffering from cardiac arrest.

While AEDs are simple to use, many people still have questions about how they work and why they’re so essential. In this article, we will discuss how AEDs work to restart the heart and will cover precisely why they are so important.

What is An AED?

As previously mentioned, an AED is a small device that works to restart the heart when it has stopped beating. An AED works by analyzing the heart’s rhythm and then supplying a shock in order to get the heart to start beating again. Defibrillators are used in hospitals as well, but AEDs are the portable versions which are available to the public in the event of an emergency.

When Should I Use An AED?

An AED should be used when someone of any age is experiencing cardiac arrest. It’s one of the most important steps in CPR procedures and should never be overlooked. However, there are a couple of things that you should always do first before using an AED:

  • First, make sure that the person you’re going to help actually requires assistance. Tap them on the shoulder and ask if they are okay or if they need assistance. If they are unresponsive, then it’s time to move forward with your life saving efforts.
  • Next, make sure you scan the area around you for safety. Ensure that you and the victim are not in any immediate danger.
  • In addition, it’s important that you also get 911 on the line as soon as possible. Tell someone nearby to call 911, or call yourself if there is no one else in the immediate area. They will stay on the phone with you to offer assistance until first responders arrive.
  • Finally, call someone to get an AED and supply the victim with the shock as quickly as possible. Again, if there is no one nearby, retrieve the AED yourself.
  • Remember that it’s also important to start supplying chest compressions and rescue breaths as soon as possible, even while waiting to receive the AED.

How Does An AED Work?

AEDs are very simple devices and extremely easy to use. In order to make sure that you’re supplying the shock properly, follow these steps when using an AED:

  • First, turn on the AED. Note that some AEDs will start up automatically when you lift the lid, while some will require you to press a button in order to turn it on.
  • Next, open up the shirt of the person to whom you’ll be offering assistance, exposing their bare chest.
  • Wipe the person’s chest dry before applying the pads.
  • Then, apply the AED pads to the victim’s chest. Place one pad on the upper right side of the chest and the other on the lower left side. The pads should be surrounding the heart. If available, use child pads on a victim under the age of 8.
  • Make sure the pads are plugged into the AED machine.
  • Next, clear the area and ensure that no one is touching the victim. Yell out “clear” before supplying the shock.
  • If there is an “analyze” button on the AED, press that first in order to encourage the AED to take a reading of the heart’s rhythm.
  • If there is no “analyze” button, or if you’ve already pressed it, move forward with pressing the “shock” button. Again, ensure that no one is touching the victim, as they will receive the shock as well if they are.

Note that AEDs will also display directions for proper use on their screen or use voice commands, so they are built to be easy to use. However, ensuring that you’re familiar with the use of an AED is essential so that you don’t get overwhelmed in the event of an emergency.

Why Are AEDs So Important?

AEDs have been shown to be essential when it comes to providing rescue efforts to someone experiencing cardiac arrest. The importance of an AED cannot be overstated. Many studies have been done on the importance of AEDs, and they just just how essential administering a shock can be:

  • According to the American Heart Association, Each year in the U.S., there are approximately 359,400 events of cardiac arrest which occur outside of a hospital setting.
  • Less than 10% of victims survive when suffering from cardiac arrest outside of a hospital.
  • An article published by Science Daily showed that survival from cardiac arrest doubled when a bystander used an AED while waiting for help to arrive.
  • In addition, the same article shows that victims of cardiac arrest who received a shock from a publicly-available AED ended up with a much better chance of surviving the incident and being discharged from the hospital (66.5%) than those who didn’t receive a shock (43%).
  • Finally, Science Daily also reports without a bystander administering a shock from an AED, 70 percent of cardiac arrest victims either died or survived but with impaired brain function.

AEDs are extremely important and life saving devices which can be used with ease. They are often available in public places and in areas such as the workplace or schools. Remember that the chances of someone surviving an episode of cardiac arrest are much higher when a shock is administered from an AED, so it’s important to keep your skills sharp. Try looking into a credible CPR/AED certification course online in order to ensure that you have the skills necessary to deal with an episode of heart failure.

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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