When a person collapses, has no pulse, and isn’t breathing, most people’s first instinct is to step in and provide CPR. CPR is certainly a great start and an effective life-saving skill, but informing yourself of other measures, like how to use an AED, can increase a victim’s chances of survival even more.
You’ve likely seen a red plastic box mounted in public areas or signs that say “AED Device Available on Site” — and if you haven’t, consider locating one next time you’re out. Automated external defibrillators (AEDs) generally come with two sets of sticky pads, one for children (a person one to seven years old) and a set of patches for adults.
But many people misunderstand how to use an AED and are unsure of what, exactly, it’s intended to do. Read on for everything you should know about using an AED to save a life.
What an AED Is
An AED may seem a relatively new invention, however, according to the NIH, the first AEDs were invented in the 1960s by Frank Partridge. Although these machines were originally bulky 70 kilogram devices, today’s AEDs are portable and much more user friendly.
As implied in the name, the device provides an electric shock to the heart to defibrillate the heart back into a normal rhythm. The automatic portion of the name refers to the analysis these machines do through their sticky patches to measure a person’s heart rhythm and instructs the user to apply the proper electrical shock if appropriate.
There are also internal versions of these machines that need to be surgically placed for those with high risk factors or history of cardiac arrest; however, whether or not you know how to use an AED, rest assured that external AEDs can be safely used with relative ease.
How to Use an AED
When a person collapses and is believed to be in cardiac arrest, immediate action needs to be taken. After all, the sooner the victim receives intervention, the higher their chances of survival. The American Heart Association suggests the use of an AED paired with CPR in all cases to help improve the chance for survival even more.
Here’s how to use an AED in five simple steps:
- Place the victim flat on his or her back when it’s safe to do so, taking steps to avoid further injuries to the neck or spine.
- Check for a pulse. If you can’t find a pulse, a second person should be sent to retrieve the AED while a primary bystander begins chest compressions. Once the AED has been retrieved, the victim should have their bare chest exposed quickly so that chest compressions aren’t interrupted.
- Locate the appropriate sticky patches, and attach them to the machine. While continuing chest compressions, The machine should have pictures of how to use an AED, which can be a helpful guide in an emergency situation.
- Ensure the victim’s chest is dry, and attach the patches. The first patch will be located between the person’s right pectoral muscle and their collar bone. The second will be applied below the left pectoral muscle near their left side.
- Follow the machine’s directions. The machine should have a clearly identified button that will be pressed. The machine will analyze the person’s heart rate and give a clear indication of whether an electric shock is needed to return the victim’s heart to normal rhythm.
Before delivering the shock, it’s essential to make sure no one is touching the victim. Following the shock, begin performing CPR immediately, starting with chest compressions, and monitor the victim until medical help arrives.
AED Concerns & Questions
One question we’re often asked when discussing how to use an AED is whether there’s any risk of the electric shock jumping from the pad to another person or metal close by. While we understand the thought process behind this concern, our experienced staff has not yet heard of an AED arcing from the patch to another person or to an item like an underwire bra.
This fact further illustrates the safety built into these life-saving devices. Modern-day AED patches have specifically designed conductive adhesives and insulating foam around the edges to help prevent any accidental shockings. But despite how safe they are, it’s still important to have a fundamental understanding of how an AED works.
The Importance of Knowing How to Use an AED
AEDs can be used by the average citizen, so even if you’ve never used one — and you hope to never have to — it’s a great idea to locate the AED at your work or other areas you frequent often. Once you know how to use an AED, being able to locate one at a moment’s notice can be a crucial next step in preparedness.
Knowing how to use an AED in tandem with CPR to treat cardiac arrest can significantly improve the survival chances for a person in cardiac arrest. At ProTrainings, we stand behind our belief that training saves lives and provide high-quality training from experienced professionals who have used the very techniques they teach.
Contact us today to learn more about our group and remote-staff CPR certification programs.