Where’s Your Nearest AED (Defibrillator)?
Chances are, you will see it happen.
In the US, about 1000 people every day suffer sudden cardiac arrest (SCA). You’ve probably seen what this looks like on TV. But when it happens to someone right in front of you, whether to a loved one or a stranger, a work colleague or a customer, it is a sight you never forget. More than anything, you want to help. And you can. You are the victim’s best chance for survival.
What happens in a sudden cardiac arrest?
Victims of SCA are unresponsive, lose consciousness, stop breathing, and have no pulse. Most often, the victim is suffering from a heart rhythm disorder called ventricular fibrillation (VF). VF can happen to anyone-even someone who appears perfectly healthy.
In this case, the victim needs CPR and defibrillation-an electric shock to correct the heart’s rhythm-as soon as possible. Ideally, they need YOU to give it to them.
What can I do? I’m not a paramedic.
With every passing minute, the chances for the victim’s survival decrease 10%. As fast as paramedics are, they can’t be everywhere in less than 3 minutes. By providing immediate treatment, you can dramatically increase the victim’s chances of survival.
You can deliver defibrillation using a device called an automated external defibrillator, or AED. The latest AEDs are remarkably lightweight and simple to use. With minimal training, anyone-YOU-can be a lifesaver.
The AED can detect if the victim needs defibrillation, and then talk you through the rescue while showing you pictures to remind you how to proceed. Some can even coach you through CPR.
Where should defibrillators be?
Public access defibrillation-putting AEDs in public places where laypersons can use them-is already a stunning success story. In airplanes, airports, casinos, hotels, office buildings, restaurants, retail stores, houses of worship and other public places,
AEDs are saving lives all over the world. The early defibrillation they enable is far more successful for sudden cardiac arrest victims than CPR alone, providing survival rates up to 70%.
In any place people gather, you should have access to a defibrillator, and you should know how to use it. You have fire extinguishers and smoke alarms. You have telephones to call the police. You have first-aid kits. You should also have a defibrillator.