How to Use an Automated External Defibrillator

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When an individual goes into sudden cardiac arrest (SCA), death can occur within minutes if they do not receive the proper treatment. Any person trained in basic cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and familiar with an automated external defibrillator (AED) can help the affected individual stay alive until emergency medical help arrives. Here are a few easy-to-follow steps to do just that.

1. Try to wake the person.

Before you attempt to use the AED, ensure that they have not fainted or simply fallen asleep. Attempt to rouse the person by shaking and shouting. Do not, however, attempt to shake an infant or toddler. Give them a pinch instead.

2. Start administering CPR & prepare the AED.

If they do not awaken, call 9-1-1 and immediately begin administering CPR. Shout for help if you are alone. Tell anyone that responds to get the automated external defibrillator or AED.

Start the AED and follow the prompts as soon as the AED is available.

An AED is easy to use. Instructions are given visibly and audibly by the unit after you turn it on.

3. Make sure area is dry.

Before you apply the AED, make sure the area is dry. If the person is lying on wet ground or if there is a puddle, pond or stream within an arm’s length of the person, you must move him to a dry area as water will conduct the electric current.

4. Apply electrode pads to chest.

Uncover the person’s chest and dry it if it is wet. Apply the electrode pads to the chest as shown on the Automatic External Defibrillator display. Proper placement is important. Make sure one pad is positioned below the left nipple and to the left of the rib cage. Apply the other above the right nipple on the right center of the chest.

If the person has an implanted medical device such as an implanted cardiovascular defibrillator or pacemaker, make sure the pads are placed about 1 inch from the devices to ensure proper current flow. You should be able to spot any devices because they will be visible just under the skin of the abdomen or chest.

Remove any obstruction such as a medication patch, under-wire bra, metal chain or body piercing. Any metal that touches the skin of the chest may conduct electricity from the shock and cause a burn.

If there is a great amount of chest hair present, remove it using the scissors or razor included in the AED kit.

The adhesive of the pads must be well-connected to the skin to properly deliver a shock. If they are not, the unit may signal you to check the electrodes.

5. Press “shock” button if needed.

If a shock is needed, the AED will charge and instruct you to remain clear of the person. Depending on the model, it will automatically administer the shock, or it will instruct you to push the “shock” button.

6. Resume CPR.

Resume CPR after the shock has been delivered. The AED will determine whether another one is necessary. Continue with the CPR cycle while you wait for the emergency personnel to arrive or until the person starts to revive.

Do not leave the person unattended until instructed to by the professionals.