Can Anyone Use an AED?


We’ve covered the topic Can Anyone Perform CPR? and now we want to address: Can Anyone Use An AED?

Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) are lightweight, battery-operated, portable devices that are easy to use by anyone.

When an AED is turned on, it begins providing clear step-by-step voice instructions on how to begin. Some AEDs also provide graphics on the device’s display. Many AEDs will guide the rescuer through CPR, which can improve the effectiveness of the rescue attempt. Typically it even reminds you to call 911!

The AED will advise you on where to place the pads (also referred to as electrodes) on the victim. Upon placing the pads on the victim’s chest, the AED analyzes the victim’s heart rhythm for chaotic cardiac arrhythmias and then determines whether the patient needs to be shocked. Depending on the AED unit, a prompt to “press the shock button” or “stand back, shock advised” will be given to the rescuer.

If a shock is not needed, the AED will NOT shock the victim. There is no harm done to the patient and the AED will prompt the rescuer to continue performing CPR until EMS responders arrive.

AEDs are made for the public, to be used by the public. While formal AED training certainly boosts user confidence, it is not required. In an emergency situation, you have only minutes before permanent damage or death occurs. Bystanders who witness a sudden cardiac arrest event can and should immediately begin chest compressions and use the closest AED available after calling 911.

If survival rates for cardiac arrest are to improve, the public needs to be aware that their actions of using an AED can only help increase chances of survival.