What you need to know about AEDs

Post Glenn W. Barham, EMT-P and Coordinator for the Emergency Response Team at Rex Healthcare.

032714_AED1Automated external defibrillators (AEDs) are literal lifesavers, delivering a shock to restore a heart’s normal rhythm following sudden cardiac arrest. But would you know how to use one in an emergency situation?

AEDs are available in many public places, including malls, grocery stores and airports, and are actually very user-friendly. While there are several AED brands on the market, they all work similarly.  The first thing to do is turn it on, and then just follow the voice and visual prompts.  They are designed to be used by untrained lay people.

Here are some pointers, courtesy of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, to keep in mind if you ever find yourself in an emergency situation requiring an AED:

  • 032714_AED2Before using an AED, check the person to make sure there is no response (shout at or shake him or her; if the person is a child, pinch instead).
  • Call 911; if more than one person is present, have one person call emergency services and get the AED while the other person begins CPR.
  • Check the breathing and pulse. If breathing and pulse are irregular or not present, get ready to use the AED as soon as possible.
  • Turn on the defibrillator, which will give you step-by-step instructions via voice and screen prompts.
  • 032714_AED3Make sure the wires from the electrodes are connected to the AED, and that no one is touching the person, then press the “analyze” button, which will allow the machine to check the person’s heart rhythm.
  • If the machine tells you a shock is needed, stand clear of the person before pressing the “shock” button.
  • Start or resume CPR until help arrives or the person begins moving. Stay with the person.

The residents of Raleigh and Wake County enjoy one of the best out-of-hospital cardiac arrest resuscitation rates in the country. Early CPR and defibrillation are cornerstones of that success. Every Emergency Response Team that works an event in our community is equipped with an AED, and their use has been instrumental, along with rapid CPR, in several successful resuscitations. While we don’t have to use them often, we realize they are one of the most vital pieces of equipment we have.

I encourage everyone to take a CPR class which includes the AED training. Do it for your family, your friends, and your neighbors.

If your company,  church, or other facility outside of Rex has an AED, please make sure that the local 911 center is aware. In cases of emergency, they can instruct the caller on its location. If you have a heart condition that puts you at risk for sudden cardiac arrest, talk with your health care provider about purchasing one for home use.

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