3 Things You Should Know About Using An Automatic External Defibrillator (AED)

These days, many public places (including amusement parks and schools) are equipped with automatic external defibrillators (AEDs)--small devices that can be used within the first few minutes of cardiac arrest to potentially save a life. Many AEDs come with easy-to-follow instructions, and some even have voice prompts, so just about anybody can use them in the event of an emergency. Still, there are a few things that it can be helpful for the average person to know, should they ever find themselves in a situation where they need to use an AED on another person.

CPR is First and Foremost

An AED should only be used on a person who has no detectable pulse and is thought to be in cardiac arrest. Therefore, before engaging the AED, it's imperative that you check for a pulse and begin administering CPR right away if the person is not breathing. If you don't know CPR, try to locate somebody nearby who does and have them perform it while you contact emergency services as quickly as possible.

Bystanders Must Stay Clear

In the event that CPR is not effective and it's determined that an AED must be used until an ambulance arrives, one of the most important aspects of using an AED is to keep bystanders clear of the person in cardiac arrest. After all, AEDs use an electrical shock in an attempt to bring a pulse back to the victim, so it's important that everybody is "clear" (not touching) the person in any way. As the person administering the AED, you should only be touching the button necessary to deliver the shocks.

Generally Not for Use on Children

Finally, if a small child has gone into cardiac arrest, understand that your may not be able to use the AED on him or her unless the defibrillator itself comes with pediatric electrode pads. Otherwise, the electrical shock delivered to the patient could be too high for small children (especially toddlers) to handle. Fortunately, an increasingly large number of AEDs these days come equipped with electrodes for both patients and adults, so just be sure that you're using the right one.

Using an AED to save somebody's life doesn't necessarily require any special training, but by being aware of these important tips and keeping them in mind, you'll be in a better place to use an AED on somebody, should the need ever present itself. For more information, contact Halifax Heart Center