When Should An AED Be Used?

A black and yellow AED with infant electrodes plugged in

We know that you should administer cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) when someone is breathing abnormally or under cardiac arrest but when should an AED be used? AED stands for Automated External Defibrillator and is a device used to help those experiencing sudden cardiac arrest (SCA). People who suffer from SCA, have an irregular heartbeat, or ventricular fibrillation. The AED analyzes the heart's rhythm and, if necessary, delivers a shock to the person's chest to help the heart re-establish an effective rhythm. 

Each year, hundreds of thousands of people die as a result of sudden cardiac arrest. Cardiac arrest occurs when the heart suddenly and unexpectedly stops pumping blood to the brain, heart, lungs and other organs. This is the most serious type of cardiac condition and can cause death within minutes if the victim is not treated rapidly.

The most obvious symptoms of cardiac arrest are as follows:

  1. Chest pain, breathlessness, palpitations, lightheadedness;

  2. Sudden fainting and loss of consciousness;

  3. Gasping or not breathing;

  4. Unresponsive; and

  5. No discernable pulse

In an emergency situation, where a victim is found unresponsive, when should an AED be used, before or after CPR?

The decision of when to use the AED is a matter of when it's available and whether you are competent to use it. Upon arriving at the scene, check for an accessible AED. If one is available, grab it and administer it. If there is not an AED immediately accessible, begin CPR. 

As a person who has been trained in CPR and AED use, you play a vital role in providing crucial life support during emergencies such as cardiac arrest and other heart problems.

When Should An AED Not Be Used?

AEDs are an essential necessity in almost any environment, while it's important to understand when they should be used, knowing when an AED should not be used is also helpful.  Here we'll outline the primary instances when AEDs should not be used, so that you can better equip yourself with the knowledge to make informed decisions about a time-sensitive situation. An AED should not be used when a victim is:

  1. Conscious and responsive;

  2. Lying in water or on a conductive surface;

  3. In a moving vehicle where the analyses may be disrupted.

Please note: If in doubt, it is best to place the electrode pads of an AED on the victim and let it do its assessment of the heart rhythm. AEDs are smart technology devices and will only deliver or suggest a shock if it determines that it is absolutely necessary.

The success of every AED on the market today has now made this life-saving device more accessible across a number of settings. With greater awareness of how an AED operates and increased training for those who use them, these devices are likely to be employed with increasing effectiveness in the near future. However, even the most advanced automated external defibrillator can only do so much. Ultimately, it is the skill of the operator that can make all the difference when lives are at stake.

The Takeaway

AEDs are becoming more common and can be found in public spaces such as airports, shops, offices, and fitness centers. If your company is looking to install an AED in the workplace it can be a daunting task to find one that suits your needs best. There is more than just cost and quality to consider, you want to make sure that the machine will get used when needed. To aid in this process you can contact AED Advantage and speak to one of our knowledgeable staff members. 

We also wanted to take this opportunity to encourage you to go out and become CPR certified (if you aren't already). The AED Advantage Shop provides a variety of different tools that can aid in your safety training. We hope this guide helps increase your understanding of how AEDs work and how they can help save a life.

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