What is an AED?
An AED, or automated external defibrillator, is a portable device that analyzes a heart rhythm and can send an appropriate electric shock if necessary to restore a normal heart rhythm. AEDs are vital in the treatment of sudden cardiac arrest (SCA).
In the case of SCA, an individual’s heart has stopped suddenly. When the heart stops beating, blood cannot flow to vital organs like the brain. If this condition is not treated within minutes, the person suffering the SCA will die. In fact, every minute SCA is left untreated, results in a 10% reduction in survival rate. The swift use of an AED to treat sudden cardiac arrest may safe a person’s life.
This past December, the quick response of two eight-grade basketball coaches and the use of an AED saved the life of 13 year old Seth O’Neil. At the end of practice Seth collapsed on the gym floor and was unresponsive. Seth was lucky that his school district required one AED in each building and that his two coaches, Jason Jacobs and Jason Navratil, were trained in CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation). The fast response of the coaches using CPR and the AED to administer a life saving shock, restored Jason’s heartbeat and saved his life.
How do you know how to use an AED?
Most AEDs are designed to be user-friendly. In fact, many will start talking and instruct you on what to do. However, if you need to use one that does not have self-instruction, follow these easy steps:
- Turn on the device.
- If the device does not talk, it will have a digital readout instructing you where to put the electrodes. Make sure to put the electrodes on dry bare skin.
- Stop CPR and let the device analyze the person’s heartbeat.
- If a shock is needed, make sure no one is touching the person and then press the button.
The AEDs are designed so that even if you accidentally press the button, no shock will be administered if none is needed.
Where Can I Find AEDs?
Many states now have laws requiring AEDs in public places. You can find them in public building, places of recreation, airplane cabins and other locations. If you are in a public place and need the use of an AED, look around. They will most likely be located near the fire alarms.
The Response Institute offers classes that can prepare you to use an AED. It’s also important to get CPR certified. Preparing for a medical emergency will help you stay calm. Knowing how to properly administer CPR and training in the use of AEDs can mean the difference in life or death for someone in your family or someone like Seth O’Neil.