What Is An AED?

An Automated External Defibrillator, commonly referred to as an AED, is a lightweight, portable device used in a Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) emergency. Able to deliver an electric shock through the chest to the heart to help stop an irregular heart rhythm and allow a normal rhythm to resume, an AED is a must have in a sudden cardiac arrest emergency.

Sudden cardiac arrest is an abrupt loss of heart function, if it is not treated within minutes it can quickly lead to death. Most sudden cardiac arrests result from ventricular fibrillation, a rapid and unsynchronized heart rhythm originating in the heart’s lower pumping chambers (the ventricles). The heart must be shocked quickly.  A victims chance of surviving a sudden cardiac arrest drops by 7%-10% for every minute a normal heartbeat isn’t restored, after approximately 3 minutes irreversible brain/tissue damage occurs, waiting for a paramedic to arrive greatly lowers the chance of survival.

 AEDs are a Must-Have!

In an emergency situation every minute matters. AEDs make it possible for anyone to respond to a medical emergency with confidence, designed to be used by nonmedical people with no training, an AED can be the difference between life and death.

How Does an AED Work?

With voice-automated step-by-step instructions, an AED will walk a responder through the CPR process. The built-in computer checks a victim’s heart rhythm through adhesive pads placed on the body and calculates whether defibrillation is needed. Defibrillation will only be advised by the AED for ventricular fibrillation (V-Fib), a rapid and unsynchronized heart rhythm, or another life-threatening condition called pulseless ventricular tachycardia (V-Tach), a fast heart rhythm that originates in one of the ventricles of the heart causing arrhythmia. If the AED determines defibrillation is needed, the voice-automated instructions guide the responder through the shock process. When a shock is administered, it momentarily stuns the heart and stops all activity, giving the heart an opportunity to resume beating effectively.

Who Can Use an AED?

Medical and non-medical personnel such as police, fire service personnel, flight attendants, security guards and other lay rescues have been trained to use an AED. But in an emergency there isn’t always time to wait for experienced help to arrive. The voice-automated AEDS are designed to be used by anyone that first arrives on the scene of a medical emergency.

Who Should Have an AED?

All first-response vehicles, including ambulances, law-enforcement vehicles and fire engines should have an AED. Additionally, AEDs should also be placed in public areas such as sports venues, gated communities, airports, office complexes, malls and shopping complexes, schools, churches and any other public or private place where large numbers of people gather or where people are at high risk for heart attacks, such as nursing homes. More and more laws are being passed across the country requiring businesses, such as dental offices, to have an AED on site. It is better to have an AED on hand and not need it than not have one and be helpless in an emergency.

Remember, for every minute that passes after a cardiac arrest the chance of survival drops by up to 10%, if it takes even 10 minutes for paramedics to arrive it could be too late.  

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