What is an AED?

I frequently am asked what an AED is. An AED is abbreviation for an Automated External Defibrillator. An AED is used in conjunction with CPR to try to restart the heart during Cardiac Arrest.

Using an AED is very simple. Different models and manufacturers of AED's can look different but they all operate the same way. AED's have voice prompts that will guide you through how to use it, in addition there are step by step directions inside the front cover. The are actually very few steps to operate an AED, but to make it even easier I've broken it down into several steps:

Step 1 Turn the AED on. On models with a hard cover the button to open the cover is the on/off switch. On models with a soft cover there will be a green on/off button.

Step 2 Take out the package with the AED pads. Open the package and place the pads on the person following the pictures on the back of each pad. Each pad will have a picture of where it should be placed. Please note that the pad must be adhered fully to the persons skin, not on clothing. If the pads are not already plugged into the AED, plug the cables into the AED.

Step 3 Some AED's will begin to analyze the heart rhythm. For some models you may need to push an ANALYZE button. While the AED is analyzing no one should touch the person. You'll feel like you're kneeling there doing nothing; and you are doing nothing - because the AED is performing an important step right now.

Step 4 When the AED is done analyzing it will either state "Shock Advised" or "No Shock Advised". If the AED says "No Shock Advised" resume CPR beginning with chest compressions. If the AED says "Shock Advised" it will charge up to deliver a shock.

Step 5 All AED's have a red shock button. The button will light up, have a light on it, or have lights around it that will light up and/or flash so that you know that the red button is the button to push. HOWEVER (this is important, hence big letters) before you press the red button to deliver the shock YOU MUST MAKE SURE NO ONE IS TOUCHING THE PERSON. We do that by looking over the person and by saying "I'm clear, you're clear (if there is anyone else helping or close by), we're all clear" and then if no one is touching the person you can push the red shock button. The person is going to move or jump when you push the shock button. This is normal.

Step 6 After you deliver the shock resume CPR starting with chest compressions. After approximately 2 minutes or 5 cycles of CPR the AED will want to analyze the heart rhythm again. Just follow the AED's prompts.

Now this post is not intended to be an AED course, rather it is solely to explain what an AED is and the steps to use one. To learn more about AED's you can contact your local fire department, ambulance corps or hospital for an AED course near you.


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