“CLEAR!” “SHOCKING!” If you watch any of those hospital drama television shows, you’ve heard these words yelled many times. These words are associated with the use of an AED, or Automatic External Defibrillator. An AED is a lifesaving device used when an individual experiences sudden cardiac arrest. You’ve seen it in movies and on TV; the doctors or nurses take those hand-held paddles and rub them together before touching them to the chest of a person who is not conscious and not breathing. You then see a violent jolt of the person’s body. This is the device delivering an electric shock to help a person’s heart return to a normal rhythm. Using an AED is currently the only way to restore a regular heart rhythm to a person in cardiac arrest.
How to Use an AED
1. Locate AED and turn it on. The AED will give visual instructions and verbal commands to assist you while using it.
2. Open the person’s shirt to expose their chest. The individual should be laying down flat on their back. If the person is wet, their chest should be wiped dry or the patches will not adhere to their skin.
3. Locate the provided pads and open the sealed package.
4. Connect the pads to the AED.
5. Turn on the AED and check the working status. Some AEDs have an indicator to advise if the AED is in working order.
6. Attach the provided pads to the person’s chest in the proper locations. The pads will have visual instructions on where to place the pads. One pad will be placed on the right side of the person’s upper chest, while the other will be placed on the left side of the person’s middle to lower chest area below the ribs.
7. Instruct everyone around the person to stand clear. CPR should stop, and no one should be touching the patient.
8. Allow the AED to analyze the person’s heart rhythm.
9. The AED will then advise if you should shock the patient. If the AED recommends shocking, once again make sure that no one, including you, is touching the individual and then press the “Shock” button.
10. After a shock is administered, the AED will then advise to continue CPR. Resume CPR for 2 minutes and continue to follow the AED’s verbal instructions. If you notice the person showing signs of life, stop CPR and monitor breathing.
Things to Know
- Approximately 60% of victims who went into sudden cardiac arrest might have been saved if an AED was immediately available to use. According to OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration), businesses are strongly encouraged to have an AED readily available in the workplace. When you arrive at a business establishment, take a look around and try to locate an AED. Cardiac arrest can happen to anyone at anytime. By knowing ahead of time where an AED can be found will decrease the amount of time it takes to locate one in the event it needs to be used. Commonly, AEDs are mounted on a wall in a central location in the business.
- There are numerous models of AED’s. Although they all look different, they function the same. Do not panic if you come across a different AED than the one you trained on or are familiar with. Follow the same procedures and listen to the commands or follow the instructions.
- Some AED’s are equipped with child sized pads. If you need to use an AED on a child and you can’t locate child sized pads, place one pad on the chest of the child and the second pad on their back.
- A person’s chances of survival decrease by approximately 10% for each minute that goes by without CPR or defibrillation. After 10 minutes, the likelihood that a person in cardiac arrest will be able to be successfully resuscitated is very low.