How to Use an AED Effectively

An AED needs to be used as soon as possible after a victim suffers a cardiac arrest. Early AED use is associated with much better outcomes from cardiac arrest. For every minute an AED is delayed, the chances of survival decrease by approximately 10%.

AEDs are becoming more common in public places. These are known as Public Access AEDs. Although AEDs are designed to be used by members of the public with no medical training, it is good to have an awareness of how to use an AED.

Using an AED effectively

Always ensure EMS have been contacted if a victim suffers a cardiac arrest. CPR should be started as soon as possible and the AED sent for.

  1. Continue the resuscitation until the AED arrives.
  2. Switch the AED on as soon as it arrives. If there are two first aiders, the second should continue the resuscitation. Follow the instructions given by the AED.
  3.  Expose the victim’s chest and attach the electrodes as shown on the packaging or on the electrodes themselves. Make sure nobody touches the casualty while the AED is analysing the heart rhythm.
  4. If an electric shock is needed make sure that everyone is clear of the victim and his immediate environment. Press the shock button if asked to do so. A fully automatic device will administer a shock itself.
  5. If the device asks you to start CPR, start immediately. Alternate 30 chest compressions with 2 rescue breaths.
  6. Keep following the instructions of the device until:
    • qualified help arrives and takes over the resuscitation;
    • the victim starts breathing normally;
    • you become exhausted.
  7. Stop resuscitating if the victim starts breathing normally. Do not switch the device off, and leave the electrodes on the victim’s chest. If the victim remains unconscious, turn him in the recovery position.

AED Safety Considerations

  • Dry the victim’s chest, if wet, before attaching the electrodes.
  • Shave or cut away excessive hair if the electrodes do not adhere.
  • Remove any medication patches, if these are present on the victim’s chest
  • If the victim has a pacemaker, do not place the electrodes on top of this device. Instead, place the electrodes just to one side or below it. A pacemaker is usually visible as a lump under the skin.
  • Keep the electrodes away from any metal jewelry. If possible, remove metal jewelry that might come into contact with the electrodes.

John Furst

JOHN FURST is an experienced emergency medical technician and qualified first aid & CPR instructor. John is passionate about first aid and believes everyone should have the skills and confidence to take action in an emergency situation.

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