What Is an AED and How Is It Used?

AEDs (Automated External Defibrillators) are an invaluable tool for saving lives during cardiac arrest emergencies. The use of AEDs and increased bystander intervention can play a vital role in improving the long-term survival rates for out-of-hospital cardiac arrest around the US.

Every year, around 6 million people die from sudden cardiac arrest worldwide. Medical emergencies can happen around any corner, so bystanders be well-informed about AEDs and their usage. A basic understanding of these life-saving devices can make a life-or-death difference in a medical emergency.

This article can help you acquire the key information about what an AED is and how it is used.

What Is an AED?

AEDs are portable electronic devices that deliver electric shocks to a person experiencing sudden cardiac arrest (SCA), a condition in which the heart suddenly stops beating.

Immediate access to an AED and a prompt bystander intervention can significantly increase the chances of survival for someone in cardiac arrest. The chance of survival of a cardiac arrest victim drops by 7% to 10% each minute that the normal heart rhythm isn’t restored, and that is where AEDs come into play.

AED Components

To move forwards, it’s important to get familiarized with the components of an AED, which typically include the following:

      • The main control unit, or a processor, which houses the internal controls and the device’s functions, such as analyzing the patient’s heart rhythm to determine if an electric shock is needed.

      • The battery, responsible for charging the AED’s capacitor and making sure it has sufficient energy for life-saving shock delivery.

      • The capacitator, which is used to store and release energy.

      • The electrical pads, which are used to adhere to the person’s chest and transmit electrical signals to the device.

      • The device screen, which contains visual instructions and prompts to guide the user through the rescue process.

      • Some AEDs also have features such as voice prompts or CPR coaching.

    Development of Modern-day AED Models

    Modern AED models are designed to be user-friendly and accessible to bystanders with little to no medical training. They provide clear voice prompts and visual instructions that guide users through each step of the rescue process.

    The simplicity of these devices helps bystanders take action into their own hands in a cardiac emergency, potentially saving a life until professional medical assistance arrives to take over. However, at least a basic knowledge of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and AED practices can benefit the overall life-saving process and confidence in the bystander’s intervention.

    How is an AED used?

    An AED is used to analyze a person’s heart rhythm and then, if necessary, deliver an electric shock to the heart to restore a normal heartbeat once again. The device is equipped with electrode pads that need to be placed on the person’s chest while implementing an AED procedure. These pads can detect the heart’s electrical activity and transmit the information to the AED, where the device then interprets the rhythm and determines if an electric shock is necessary.

    Step-by-step guide for Using an AED

    To ensure effective usage of an AED, it is important to be familiar with the step-by-step process. For that purpose, in the next section, we are sharing a general outline of the process to help you out if you happen to find yourself in an unpleasant medical emergency.

    1. Assessing the situation and ensuring personal safety – Before approaching a person in cardiac arrest, assess the scene for any potential hazards, ensuring your safety and the safety of others. If the situation is unsafe, wait for professional help to arrive.

    2. Activating emergency services – Call emergency services or instruct someone nearby to do so. It is important to provide them with accurate information about the situation, including the suspected cardiac arrest.

    3. Preparing the patient and applying the AED pads – If the person is unresponsive and not breathing normally, place them on a firm, flat surface. Expose their chest and wipe it dry if necessary. Open the AED and attach the electrode pads to the person’s bare chest as indicated by the AED’s visual instructions.

    4. Following the AED prompts and delivering a shock (if advised) – Once the pads are applied, the AED will analyze the person’s heart rhythm. If a shock is advised, ensure that no one is in contact with the person and press the shock button as instructed. Some AED models may deliver the shock automatically without requiring user input.

    5. Performing CPR in conjunction with AED usage – After delivering a shock (if needed), immediately resume CPR by following the AED’s prompts or the guidelines provided by emergency services. Perform chest compressions and rescue breaths as necessary until professional help arrives.

    Public AED Accessibility

    Since you are already informed of the importance of prompt AED use in cardiac arrest cases, it is clear that time is of the essence in a medical emergency. Cardiac arrest is a life-threatening condition, and timely AED intervention can increase the chances of survival for out-of-the-hospital sudden cardiac arrest.

    Therefore, having an AED available in public spaces, workplaces, and residential areas is key for the possibility of a prompt response, effective treatment, and, finally safer cities for all. Providence residents should familiarize themselves with AEDs as they play a crucial role in emergency preparedness and can potentially save lives in emergencies.

    Specific Regulations for Public AED Usage in Providence

    In Providence, Rhode Island’s capital, specific regulations and guidelines were introduced in 2017 when a bill on the topic of AED was issued. The General Assembly approved the legislation that public places in Rhode Island capable of holding 300 or more people should be required to have an AED and a qualified person on-site to administer it. It was said to take effect immediately; however, the requirement can’t be officially effective until the Department of Health issues related regulations.

    Regardless, residents and organizations need to stay informed about these regulations and updates to ensure compliance and enhance the effectiveness of AED deployment across the city. In addition, communities, workplaces, shopping malls, sports stadiums, schools, kindergartens, and other public places should take the initiative, act responsibly, get AED equipment and train staff to administer it. This will ultimately improve the survival rates and will lead to a safer city.

    Training and Education for AED Use

    Although AEDs are user-friendly and can be used by anyone, paying attention to the significance of receiving proper training and certification in AED and CPR can truly make a difference. Training equips individuals with the knowledge and skills necessary to confidently and effectively use an AED during an out-of-hospital cardiac emergency. Understanding the correct procedures, including when and how to use an AED, ensures that the device is utilized safely and optimally, maximizing its potential to save lives.

    Encouraging AED Training Practices

    Communities should prioritize encouraging the population to engage and learn about useful and saving life practices, such as AED use and CPT techniques. By obtaining proper training and certification, citizens can gain the necessary skills needed to respond effectively in a medical crisis.

    In addition, feeling you know how to handle a situation can help you not be fearful and panic in an emergency. AED training equips individuals with the ability to recognize signs of cardiac arrest, activate emergency services promptly, perform CPR, and utilize an AED correctly.

    Conclusion: Final Thoughts on AED Use

    The need to understand the importance of what an AED is and how it is used is vital for everyone. AEDs play a major role in increasing survival rates for victims experiencing sudden cardiac arrest.

    That is why taking the initiative and learning more about important topics such as AED use and CPR is generally a good idea. This will give you power and kindness, as you can help out to people around you if a medical emergency happens.

    Individuals and organizations are encouraged to undergo AED training to enhance emergency response in Providence. By having more prepared organizations, and individuals that have obtained proper AEDs training, there can be an overall improvement in the emergency response in the community. This can potentially save the lives of many, increase survival rates in the long term, and finally make Providence a safer place to live and work.