What is an AED used for and why should you have a certification? Click here to learn everything you need to know about AEDs!

Prior to the 1960s, individuals who fell over from a heart attack didn’t have a prayer of surviving their malady. But thanks to innovative thinkers like resuscitation pioneers Drs. Kouwenhoven, Safar, and Jude, we have cardiopulmonary resuscitation. Countless individuals have used CPR to save countless lives since its inception in the mid-twentieth century.

The AED is the CPR of our time. But exactly what is an AED used for?

History of Defibrillation

The idea of defibrillation has existed since the late 1800s. In the 1960s, about the same time, the resuscitation pioneers were saving lives with CPR, ambulance drivers and paramedics were using defibrillators to bring patients with an arrhythmia back to life.

Modern-day AEDs have come a long way. Just about any non-medical official with minimal training can administer the shock an AED will give.

How Does an AED Work? 

The current AED (or automatic external defibrillator) model will detect if the victim’s heart even needs a shock. Just because you pass out doesn’t mean your heart needs to be shocked.

Once the AED determines the necessity of a shock, the push of a button can administer the needed shock to bring the patient’s heart back into the right rhythm.

What Is an AED Used For?

An AED, in short, is used to save lives. People with minimal training can now restart a stopped heart thanks to this device that’s become as common as a fire extinguisher in public places.

The AED strengthens the chain of survival. In the past, a patient who passed out due to cardiac arrest would have to lie there for several minutes before an ambulance with life-saving measures could arrive. And that was if someone was with the patient and could contact help right away.

With a mobile AED, any trained individual can call 911 and then grab the machine off the wall to save a patient’s life before more damage occurs.

Individuals who suffer a sudden cardiac arrest see their chances for survival drop 7 to 10 percent for every minute that passes after the episode. Immediate AED use means the patient has a stronger chance of survival.

When Do You Use an AED?

When an individual collapses, you always begin with one thing: call 911. The cause of the collapse can vary, and you don’t know the cause. Calling 911 means you’ve taken the first step in a chain of survival.

Then, assess the victim. If the fallen person is having convulsions, then the problem isn’t necessarily heart related. But if the individual is simply unresponsive, he or she could easily be suffering from sudden cardiac arrest.

According to recent statistics by the American Heart Association, over 356,000 people suffered from cardiac arrest out of the hospital in 2018. Approximately 90 percent of those arrests were fatal.

Properly using the AED will first alert you if the individual needs the shock, and then will potentially save a life. Resources such as this article will help you understand exactly when to use the AED.

How Do You Use an AED?

When you come across an individual who has collapsed, begin by assessing the victim’s condition. You cannot just jump in and hook up the AED.

Before You Use the AED

Use the ABC method to determine if the individual needs CPR.

  • Airway: make sure the airway isn’t blocked.
  • Breathing: check to see if the individual is breathing. Put your face or cheek by the victim’s mouth and nose to see if you can feel the breath.
  • Circulation: check for a pulse either on the victim’s neck or on his or her wrist. Color changes, sweating, and a lower level of consciousness indicates a circulation problem and thus a potential heart problem.

If your victim is an adult, shake him to attempt to rouse him. Shout his or her name if you know it or even just “Are you alright!” to see if you can wake the victim.

If the victim is still unconscious and is not breathing, call 911. Make sure you tell the 911 operator that you have an AED on-site and plan on using it.

If you’re not alone, stay with the victim and have a person nearby grab the AED. Try to not leave the victim alone.

Begin CPR, where you have 100 chest compressions per minute. If you do not know how long the victim has been unconscious, use the AED.

Using the AED

Make sure you dry off the victim’s chest if he or she is wet. The AED will not stick or work if the victim is wet. Because water conducts electricity, you want to make sure there’s no water near the victim as well.

Then turn on the AED and follow its instructions.

Most AED kits come with either scissors or a razor. You may need to cut the victim’s shirt off or shave an especially hairy chest.

Then follow the instructions on the screen.

Remember to take off any metal jewellery or other metal that could conduct electricity. This includes women’s bras with a metal underwire. Keep the pads at least one inch away from any implanted devices or piercings.

Once the pads are on correctly, the AED will analyze the victim’s rhythm and tell you if the victim needs shocking. If the victim does not need shocking, keep up with CPR until help arrives.

Limitations of the AED

AEDs cannot fix all heart problems. It can only correct a problem when the heart’s electrical activity malfunctions. It does not save all heart disease victims.

Still, we don’t know how many individuals with sudden cardiac arrest would be alive today if they would have had an AED nearby and a caring, knowledgeable individual to administer a good shock.

Never Fear, AEDs Are Here

Now that you can answer, “what is an AED used for?” you can take a local CPR/AED training class and then learn how to run these commonly found devices. You have no reason to panic if you educate yourself.

To stay healthy and on top of the latest health trends, keep checking out our articles.


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