What Is an AED and How Is It Used?

What Is an AED and How Is It Used?

Your heart beats about 100,000 times per day. Every beat delivers oxygen and nutrients to each part of your body. The heart is such a powerful force in our lives, but what happens when it stops beating?

Automated external defibrillators (AEDs) are life-saving devices used to restore a regular heartbeat after a cardiac arrest. AEDs are not just tools for medical professionals anymore – they are rapidly becoming available to the public as a means to save lives.

An AED may be found in public spaces that are frequented by large numbers of people, but they can also be purchased for individual use to have in your home or office. There are even portable versions available to carry with you on the go. You could keep one in your car.

If you or a loved one have heart complications, having an AED accessible could mean saving a life – let’s see how.

What Is an AED?

So, what is an AED and how is it used? An automated external defibrillator (AED) provides an electric shock to the heart when the person goes into cardiac arrest. In such cases, there are two primary conditions that may cause changes in the typical heartbeat, leading to an SCA.

These changes can manifest as:

      • Dangerously fast heartbeat (ventricular tachycardia)

      • Fast and irregular heartbeat (ventricular fibrillation).

    Mind that an AED is only used in the case of a cardiac arrest, not heart attack. Usually, the heart doesn’t stop beating during the latter.

    The home AED can consist of electrode pads for adults and children, a battery pack, and a user manual. The instructions manual guides you through the process of checking for a heartbeat before administering the electric shock as well as the steps that follow.

    When should one use an AED? Let’s explore below.

    When Should I Use an AED?

    Many people take CPR or First Aid classes to help them protect the people around them. Some schools even require their teachers to learn these life-sustaining techniques. But how many people are knowledgeable on the use of an AED and when to use it? Chances are, not that many.

    Anywhere from 70%-90% of heart patients die before ever reaching the hospital. Every extra minute that you wait for a medical professional increases the chances of brain damage or organ failure. When time is of the essence, you should not wait to provide care.

    Having said that, the first thing that we do in an emergency is reach for the phone and call 911. After that, start CPR immediately while waiting for someone else to bring an AED.

    It’s not a good idea to transport the victim without providing first aid, as you may be unaware of the severity of their situation. Because traffic or inclement weather can impede the path of the ambulance, it’s important for bystanders to rush for help.

    Where to Learn How to Use an AED

    First of all, we recommend that everyone who intends to have an AED in their home take a class to inform them of the necessary procedures. This will not only allow you to understand how to use the machine well, but it will also provide a sense of calm when an emergency arises.

    Cool heads and practiced hands in an urgent situation perform best. Panic does not help anyone. Contact your local Red Cross for information regarding classes.

    If you cannot attend a physical class, there are plenty of options for online courses in using an AED. Even if heart disease is not present in your family, you might be required to perform the procedure on a stranger in trouble someday.

    The more people who gain access to and knowledge about AEDs in general, the better off everyone will be. With all of this in mind, it’s hard to find a reason not to familiarize yourself with AEDs.

    How Do I Use an AED?

    Understanding the steps and a bit of practice will allow you to perform resuscitation on someone in an urgent situation:

        • Check for breathing and heartbeat. In the case of a loss of consciousness, check to see if the person is breathing. You can tilt their head back and see if their chest is rising and falling. Check for a heartbeat by placing your fingers along the side of the neck where the jugular vein is located.

          • Call 911. If you are alone, do this immediately. It’s essential for medical professionals to be en route in an emergency. If there is someone else there, have them call 911 while you begin CPR.

            • If CPR attempts are unsuccessful, get the AED. The AED will guide you through the next steps with its computer. There is also a display with all the instructions to accompany you through the process.

              • Remove clothing and place the pads. You need to be working against the skin, and the pads need to be placed on the individual’s dry chest. Place one pad on the upper right side of the chest, and the other one can be placed on the lower right side of the chest. You are aiming for an area just below the armpit.

                • Make sure the pads are plugged in so that they check for a heart rhythm. Allow the pads to assess the situation once they are attached and engaged properly.

                  • Provide life-saving shock. If the AED instructs that a shock to the heart is necessary, follow the device’s instructions to deliver the shock. Make sure that those around you are not touching the person and shout, “Clear!”

                    • Continue giving CPR if the machine instructs you to do so. If the heartbeat does not resume to beat as normal, you should continue CPR until the emergency crews arrive. Don’t stop. By performing CPR, you are delivering oxygen to their brain, which can be instrumental in preserving their lives after professionals arrive on the scene.

                  Should I Have an AED?

                  Now that you know the importance of an AED and how to use it, you may be wondering if it is worthwhile for you to purchase one and have it handy. This depends on a few factors.

                  First of all, if you live alone, an AED may not be the best option. You cannot perform the procedure on yourself. Someone else has to administer it for you.

                  Second, the person administering the AED must be able to get down on the floor. If your companion cannot crouch down or get down to the floor, they may not be able to use the machine.

                  AEDs range in price from about $1200 to $1900. Some stores even offer used AEDs for purchase. Make sure that the device you choose has a functioning battery, as these are battery-operated machines.

                  If a home AED is not practical for you, bear in mind that more and more public spaces are making AEDs available on site. If you frequent places such as a gym, an office, shopping centers, and airports, inquire with them if they have AEDs available and staff who know how to use them. If they don’t have them, you can insist they change this practice!

                  Final Word

                  So, what is an AED and how is it used? An AED is a device that provides an electrical shock in case of a sudden cardiac arrest. By doing so, the victim’s regular heartbeat is restored.

                  The world is well-acquainted with CPR and first aid practices, but the AED is the next home accessory. Although CPR and general first aid remain a go-to method when a person undergoes a cardiac arrest, an AED is sometimes inevitable when CPR attempts fail.

                  These machines are changing the way we can treat heart disease outside of the emergency room and an ambulance. Soon, everyone will have access to them with the same frequency as fire extinguishers and thermometers.

                  Computer-generated instructions can help even the most inexperienced person to save a life if there is an AED available. The voice-generated instructions can take you through each step to ensure you provide assistance with care.

                  Sign up for a class in your area, and make a big change in your community today!