What Are AEDs?
AEDs are portable, life-saving devices designed to treat people experiencing sudden cardiac arrest, a medical condition in which the heart suddenly and unexpectedly stops beating. The AED system includes accessories, such as a battery and pad electrodes, that are necessary for the AED to detect and interpret an electrocardiogram and deliver an electrical shock. There are two main types of AEDs: public access and professional use.
- Public access AEDs can be found in airports, community centers, schools, government buildings, hospitals, and other public locations. They are intended to be used by laypeople who have received minimal training.
- Professional use AEDs are used by first responders, such as emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and paramedics, who receive additional AED training.
AEDs can be semi-automated or fully automated.
- Semi-automated defibrillators analyze the heart’s rhythm, and if an abnormal heart rhythm is detected that requires a shock, then the device prompts the user to press a button to deliver a defibrillation shock.
- Fully automated defibrillators analyze the heart’s rhythm and deliver a defibrillation shock if commanded by the device software without user intervention.
How to use an AED
Home automated external defibrillator (AED)
If someone has fainted and might need an AED:
- Check to see if the person is breathing and has a pulse.
- If you cannot feel a pulse and the person is not breathing, call for emergency help. If there are other people present, one person can call 911 while the other prepares the AED. If you’re alone, call emergency services first to make sure help is on the way.
- Turn on the AED. The automated external defibrillator gives you step-by-step voice instructions. It will tell you how to check for breathing and a pulse and how to position electrode pads on the person’s bare chest.
- Deliver the shock. When the pads are in place, the AED automatically measures the person’s heart rhythm and determines if a shock is needed. If it is, the machine tells the user to stand back and push a button to deliver the shock. The AED is programmed not to deliver a shock if a shock isn’t needed.
- Start CPR. Begin CPR after the shock is delivered if CPR is still needed. The AED will also guide users through CPR. The process can be repeated as needed until emergency crews take over.