How to Use a Defibrillator

The number of defibrillators in public spaces is continuously increasing. Still, every year more than 300,000 Americans die from sudden cardiac arrest outside of hospitals. Many of these deaths could’ve been avoided if more citizens knew how to use public automated external defibrillators. 

As mentioned before, more institutions incorporate these devices into their spaces. When used correctly, a defibrillator can significantly increase the chance of survival. Unfortunately, without proper knowledge, using them isn’t safe. 

But it’s not just public places that have started to incorporate defibrillators in their premises. More and more Americans who suffer from different heart-related diseases have decided to use them. And with a wide range of defibrillators, purchasing one has never been easier. 

But before you get yourself your own portable AED, you have to know how and when you can use it. Below a quick guide on what is a defibrillator, when, and how to use one correctly. 

What is an AED and When to Use It 

An automated external defibrillator (AED) is a device that sends an energy shock through the heart. The shock is called defibrillation, and its goal is to restore another person’s heart rhythm when it goes into a cardiac arrest. 

But the question is, what is a cardiac arrest exactly? You ought to know that before you start delivering a shock in another person’s heart, and you won’t have time to ask politely whether an individual has it. 

In a nutshell, a cardiac arrest is a situation when the heart suddenly stops pumping blood around the body. It usually happens because of problems with the heart’s electrical signals. 

As soon as the heart stops working, the blood will lack oxygen, resulting in a person blacking out and stopping breathing. And when it comes to cardiac arrests, you need to act quickly as every minute counts. 

Call 911 immediately and start giving the other person CPR. Only by doing that you’ll increase their chances of survival. To make your help more effective, you can use an AED. But before you decide on doing that, make sure you know how to use one. And that brings us to the next point. 

How to Use an AED 

Using AEDs is much easier than you think. They’re designed to perform even when you don’t have special training. Still, it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t have at least some basic knowledge of how to use it. It might make the difference in the moment of emergency. 

To ensure you save another person’s life, ensure you follow these simple steps: 

  1. Check whether the person is breathing and has a pulse. If not, call for an emergency. If there are other people around, ask someone else to do it and start preparing an AED.
  1. Turn an AED on. Once you start it, it will give you step by step instructions on what you need to do. It covers everything from the correct check of someone’s state to the right electrode pads positioning.
  1. Once the pads are in place, the AED measures the person’s heart rhythm and determines whether the shock is needed. If it is, the device will tell you to step back and push the shock button. Keep in mind that if it’s not required, a defibrillator won’t deliver the shock.
  1. If you delivered the shock, but the person still requires help, start CPR, or get someone who also knows how to perform it to do it. Continue it until the emergency crew comes, or the person regains consciousness.

When to Purchase Your Defibrillator 

As mentioned before, there are special AEDs you can purchase for your own use. Doing that is actually recommended if you have heart disease which can increase your sudden heart attack chances. Having an AED in your home will give you peace of mind and may save your life when the time comes. 

When deciding on this kind of purchase, it’s always best to consult your doctor. They’ll be able to give you all the necessary information and provide you with detailed instructions on when and how to use your defibrillator. 

Here are some other tips regarding home AEDs: 

  • Have a practice run using a defibrillator 
  • Buy an AED approved by the FDA 
  • Store it in an easily accessible place 
  • Maintain your AED to ensure it will work when you need it 

Bottom Line 

As you can see, using AEDs is much easier than many people think. And when used properly, a defibrillator can make the difference and make your first aid much more effective. In fact, an AED can increase the survival rates of a sudden cardiac arrest by 80% when used within the first three minutes. 

That’s why learning the basics of its usage is absolutely crucial, especially if you or a person you live with suffers from cardiac disease. Keep in mind that sometimes CPR might not be enough, and using an AED might be the only way to save a life. 


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