Automated external defibrillators (AED) are life savers. Literally. An AED is a device used to restart a heart after cardiac arrest occurs. Anybody can use an AED. They are not just for medical professionals. This is particularly important today when more people die from sudden cardiac arrest than from cancer. The survival rate among heart attack victims is only about 5%. If a person survives cardiac arrest, the defibrillator damage is often severe.
This type of defibrillator is considered “external” because the electrode pads are applied to the victim’s body, specifically the chest area. It is “automated” because the defibrillator automatically assesses the victim’s condition. The purpose of the defibrillator is to determine if a shock is needed to get the heart beat back to normal. If a shock is needed, the user will follow the instructions provided by the defibrillator. The shock actually stops the heart to allow it to basically reset itself. This resetting of the heart is the process of defibrillation.
AEDs can deliver monophasic or biphasic electrical currents. After the electrodes are applied to the victim, the user allows the AED to assess the victim. Specific instructions appear on the display panel. If a shock is needed, the user is instructed to deliver it. This occurs with the touch of a button.
AED defibrillators are often available in public places. Places where people congregate, such as schools, office buildings, malls, airports, and concert halls, have one or more defibrillators available for public use. The defibrillator can be used while waiting for emergency responders to arrive. This is critical since as many as half of cardiac arrests occur in public places, including work settings.
If you work on the 56th floor of a high-rise building and you have a sudden heart arrest, waiting for emergency medical services can result in your death. This is not the fault of the medical professionals, merely the logistics of getting to you when every minute counts. Having an AED defibrillator nearby for others to use on you increases your chances for survival.
Nearly half of all heart attacks occur while the victim is at home. It is now commonplace to find AED defibrillators in the homes of individuals with heart conditions. They provide a feeling of security for the victim and loved ones. Family members can easily learn to use the defibrillator in case of emergency.
Some defibrillators allow the user to record notes on the victim’s condition and ongoing status. Others store the assessment data so that the medical professionals have accurate date upon arrival. You should continue using the defibrillator until the emergency medical professionals arrive.