When To Use An AED - Before Or After CPR?

When To Use An AED - Before Or After CPR?

What is the right order when someone needs help and you have an automated external defibrillator (AED) and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) training? When is it okay to start with CPR before using an AED, or vice versa? Below are 3 points regarding the use of an AED before and after CPR that every scene responder, and layperson will want to know when responding to someone in cardiac arrest.

1. Why Would You Do CPR Before Using An AED?

AEDs aren't always readily available in public places, so there may be times when you don't have one at hand when someone needs help. AEDs can be used on anyone who has a heart rhythm that indicates they're in cardiac arrest, The AED assesses the victim's heart rhythm and won't shock unless it's needed. Using an AED makes it possible for bystanders to help save lives by following an automated process on any victim who is suffering from sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) without formal first aid training.

CPR can't restart the heart beating itself; it just keeps blood flowing through the body until someone gets emergency care. When someone is in cardiac arrest, their heart has stopped beating due to either a lack of oxygen (asphyxia) or electrical problems in the heart muscle itself (cardiac arrhythmia). In either case, CPR will help keep blood flowing through the body until medical professionals arrive. 

Ideally, early defibrillation is better than late defibrillation but if you’re waiting for an AED to arrive on the scene, and you or someone else is trained in CPR, it should be performed until the AED is available for use.

2. Should CPR Continue After Using An AED?

Yes! If the victim’s heart has returned to a regular rhythm, it is still important for bystanders to continue CPR after using an AED, especially if the patient is not breathing on their own. So long as the shocks from the AED have been completed, and there is no risk of shocking yourself, CPR should continue until an ambulance arrives or advanced life support is available. The purpose of this is to keep blood flowing through the body by performing chest compressions and providing oxygen from mouth-to-mouth breathing, keeping vital organs alive until help arrives. 

3. What Can Early CPR and Early Defibrillation Do?

Early CPR and early defibrillation are critical in saving lives after cardiac arrest. It's important to remember that CPR is not meant as a replacement for defibrillation or vice versa. The two techniques should be used together, as one cannot work without the other to save lives and prevent brain damage from cardiac arrest. If you encounter someone who is unresponsive and not breathing normally, call 911 immediately, then begin CPR until an AED is located. 

CPR And AEDs Are Both Valuable When It Comes To Saving Lives

To conclude, CPR is a lifesaving technique that more people should learn. AEDs are also valuable devices that can be used by an untrained layperson to save lives, and places where they're frequently located need to be easy to find and accessible. Together, these two life-saving techniques can keep people alive until the proper medical personnel arrive on the scene, but only if prompt action is taken after cardiac arrest occurs.

CPR training is not necessary when using an AED, these devices are straightforward in their use and can increase survival odds when used in the event of a cardiac arrest. For this reason, it is a valuable tool to have available to the public, to employees in the workplace and even in your own home. You can learn more about the different types of AEDs available by visiting the AED Advantage website, or contacting a member of their team for more information. 

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