AEDs are becoming much more accessible, you probably pass by one nearly everyday and may not know it. They are found in many public buildings, but still many people do not know what they are or how to use these life-saving devices.
AEDs have been around a long time, according to Wikipedia, the first use of an external defibrillator on a human was in 1947 by Claude Beck. The portable version of the defibrillator was invented in the mid-1960s by Frank Pantridge in Belfast, Northern Ireland, a pioneer in emergency medical treatment.
AED stands for Automated External Defibrillator. Broken down simply, ‘automated’ means that the unit will be mostly automatic so it will ‘talk’ or prompt users on it’s use making it very simple to use. ‘External’, indicates that this device is used outside of the body so it is put on by a bystander or first responder. ‘Defibrillator’ is defined as an apparatus used to control heart fibrillation (quivering or not beating properly) by application of an electric current to the chest wall or heart, so it sends a ‘shock’ to the heart. So basically, an AED is an easy to use device that people can hook up to someone needing CPR to help reset the heart’s electrical rhythm. They are easy to use and can significantly increase the chance of survival in the case of cardiac arrest. Knowing what an AED is, when to use it and how to use it is essential to give someone the greatest chance of survival in case of an emergency.
Now that we’ve covered what an AED is, let’s look at when and how it should be used. As with the definition of AED, the use is simple. Anytime someone is in cardiac arrest, or needs CPR, meaning that they are unconscious, unresponsive and not breathing normally, if available, bystanders should ask for and hook up an AED to the patient. To use the AED unit, simply open the case or turn ‘on’ the power button and it will direct users what to do from there (automated). The pads of the AED have pictures to guide users to place on the chest and the unit will detect if it can attempt to rest the hearts electrical rhythm. Training classes focus on all of the details of the AED but truly the most important thing to remember is that ANYONE can use these devices, trained or not and if you simply turn it on it will direct users from there.
Oftentimes AEDs are displayed in the media as a device that ‘(re)starts’ the heart, truly though, an AED is meant to reset the heart. Users should simply listen to the prompts of the unit, it will send a shock to reset the heart if necessary, otherwise it will not and simply direct users to conduct CPR. Since the rhythm of the heart can change, the AED will prompt users to stop CPR to analyze the rhythm of the heart about every 2 minutes. Listening to the directions and allowing the machine to properly function and assess the rhythm of the patient allows for the greatest chance of success in its use. If using an AED all you really need to do is turn it on and listen to the prompts, it’s that simple.
AED’s can (and should) be used on anyone needing CPR, whether they are 1 day old or over 100 years old. An AED is designed to deliver an electrical shock to the patient’s heart if and only if the AED device detects that an electrical shock is needed and could help return the heart back to it’s normal electrical rhythm.
A recent study of children has found that automated external defibrillators, or AEDs, improve survival rates for children who suffer cardiac arrest outside of a hospital setting. Specifically, the study found that children who were treated with an AED by a bystander had a survival rate of just over 29 percent. To compare, children not treated with an AED had a 23.7 percent survival rate and this may be even greater in adults.
The study also found that older children are more likely to receive AED treatment than infants and preschoolers. Experts believe this is because older children more commonly go into cardiac arrest at places with defibrillators, like schools.
While the findings of this study may seem obvious, these are important facts to note and discuss. More than 350,000 Americans experience cardiac arrest outside of a hospital setting every year. Only about 7,000 of those are children. Raising awareness of the life-saving usefulness of AEDs may motivate more businesses to make them accessible, and more people to learn how to use them. In turn, more people will live past a cardiac arrest.
This research makes it clear: when bystanders use defibrillators on people in cardiac arrest, lives are saved. Nearly any and all accredited CPR certification courses will cover the basics of use for automated external defibrillators (AEDs) to help improve confidence and overall use of these lifesaving units. By educating people on what an AED is, when to use it, how to use it and other special considerations will increase their availability and use. With more AEDs available and more people comfortable and trained to use them, there will continue to be more lives saved in case of cardiac emergency. Take a CPR class today, learn more about AEDs and feel confident that you can use one in case it is needed! www.TwinCitiesCPR.com