AEDs and Their Importance

Ninety- five percent of people who have SCA die from it- most within minutes. Rapid treatment of SCA with an AED can be lifesaving.” – National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

What is an AED?

An AED is an automated external defibrillator. AEDs are battery operated portable devices that detect the heart’s rhythm. If the heart is out of rhythm an AED can restore the heart to its normal rhythm by sending electric shocks. AEDs come with instructions and also give voice prompts, making them extremely user friendly. They even let the user know whether or not an electrical shock should be sent.

How does the heart work?

The heart’s rate and rhythm is controlled by an internal electrical system. Problems with this electrical system can cause the heart to beat at an irregular rhythm, too fast, and/ or too slow. These are referred to as arrhythmias. Heart arrhythmias can lead to sudden cardiac arrest, which is a condition where the heart suddenly stops beating. If the heart stops beating that means blood is not circulating through your body. This lack of blood flow can lead too other complications and damage to the brain and other vital organs.

If not treated within minutes sudden cardiac arrest will lead to death. According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, “each minute of SCA leads to a 10 percent reduction in survival.”

Signs and Symptoms of a sudden cardiac arrest:

Person may collapse suddenly

Loss of consciousness

Inability to respond

Person is not breathing or is breathing abnormally

A pulse cannot be found

Skin color may become darkened or blue (From lack of oxygen)

Person may not move or have movements that mimic a seizure

How can you help?

Using an AED on a person who is having a sudden cardiac arrest can save the person’s life. An electric shock from an AED can restore the heart’s rhythm to its normal rate. Although trained individuals are always preferred, AEDs are devices that untrained individuals can use. Using an AED is fast and simple.

Check to make sure the person is in a dry area

Turn the AED’s power on

The machine will begin to give you step-by-step instructions via voice prompts

Expose the person’s chest and apply the sticky pads according to the machine’s instructions

Follow the machine’s instructions for shock administration and CPR compressions

Continue CPR until medical helps arrives or until the person begins to move

Bystanders should not be worried to step in and help. There are Good Samaritan laws in every state that protect bystanders who respond to emergencies.

Employer Suggestions

If you are thinking about buying an AED, training for individuals who may be put in the situation to help rescue is highly recommended. AEDs should be kept in a safe and easily accessible location. All employees should be made aware of where AEDs are stored.

Are there any risks?

According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute “there are no reports of AEDs harming bystanders or users. Also, there are no reports of AEDS delivering inappropriate shocks”. AEDs are safe, user friendly, and if used can improve the persons chance of survival significantly.


For more information, please reference articles from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute or the American Heart Association.


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