What is an AED?
An AED or Automated External Defibrillator is an emergency device that is used to shock a person who has gone into sudden cardiac arrest, to try and revive them and get their heart beating again. When used quickly the AED is very effective and successful and is able to “bring someone back to life”. There are many cases and some very recent ones that highlight the benefits and effectiveness of AED’s.
There are different types of devices, but they all operate on the same concept which is, to shock the heart, which is not beating but is in a shockable rhythm such as ventricular fibrillation and tries to revert or bring it back to an effective beating rhythm.
The AED can be used by anyone, either medical professionals or bystanders, family, or work colleagues. There are many different makes and models such as Zoll, Philips, HeartSine, etc, which all provide an electrical shock source, but differ in design, durability, simplicity, and obviously cost. The decision on which device to purchase is up to the purchaser and their preference.
The device is designed for use when a person suffers a heart attack, collapses, and then goes into cardiac arrest. The heart is now not beating correctly and there is no blood circulating around the body to parts such as the brain. The purpose of the AED is to be applied quickly and used to shock the heart back into a beating rhythm with the electrical activity, as soon as possible, speed of use is critical to ensure success.
How does an AED work?
The AED will be used in conjunction with performing Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR), together the chances of success are very good, but are dependent on how quickly the first shock is delivered to increase chances of survival. The different AED devices provide step-by-step instructions on the machine and by voice prompts/voice instructions on what to do when using the machine.
7 Steps to using an AED in first aid
- Continue to perform CPR while getting the AED ready for use;
- Switch on the machine by pressing the green on the button;
- Apply the two defib pads to the person’s chest, one on the front right middle chest and the other on the left side of the left chest, as per the picture indicating pad position;
- Analysing the patient’s heart rhythm, stop CPR and do not touch the patient;
- Charging, stand clear and do not touch the patient;
- Everyone stands clear and presses the shock button now;
- Continue performing CPR, or shock not advised and breathing;
The steps to follow are very simple and easy to follow and the AED can therefore be used by anyone or any bystander who is willing to assist whilst waiting for first responders. The devices are made to be simple to use, light in weight, and portable to be taken to the patient who has collapsed. Absolute Health Services offers official AED training workshops, or AED training is also covered in The success of the AED is directly related to the speed of use.
If the device is used within the first 2 to 3 minutes from the actual cardiac arrest, the success of the revival of the heartbeat is very high, but the longer it takes to shock the success rate is diminished and reduced. After 10 minutes from cardiac arrest, the chances of success are reduced drastically. They are easy to use, so don’t be afraid and use them quickly, you might save someone’s life.
The workplace and other areas for an AED
All workplaces should have AED machines as they may be required at unexpected times. The risk of someone having a heart attack and going into cardiac arrest at work is high and for this reason AED’s should be available at work. In addition to work, they should be available for the public or police or other authorities to persons to use. Places of location and positioning should include the workplace on various levels of public buildings such as gym’s, shopping malls, old age and care facilities, airplanes, trains, schools, universities, etc.
There should be directional signage drawing attention to the location of the AED, so that when needed they can be easily identified and reached. The first aiders do need to know where the various devices are located. The units will also need to be checked on a regular basis to ensure that they are charged and fit and ready for use. The batteries and power source should be checked as well as the pads to ensure that they have not expired and still have their adhesive properties to ensure good contact when used.
First Aid Training and the use of AED
The AED is covered and part of many of the Absolute Health Services courses such as all the various first aid courses, as well as Basic Life Support for Healthcare Providers, CPR for Professionals, and the Health and Safety Officer Course. Employers or owners of businesses where there is a high risk of cardiac arrest must have AED’s available and the necessary training provided to their staff to build confidence and the importance of speedy usage.
We do suggest that all workplaces have a mounted unit available, but examples of workplaces with a specific need due to their high-risk environment would include all gyms, all sports stadiums, fields and locations, medical and care facilities, GP / doctor rooms, and all high volume public areas, etc.
Absolute Health Services is able to supply AED’s as well as training workshops for all workplaces and their staff, to ensure that this critically important and life saving device is available in times of need.