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Automated External Defibrillators

May 19, 2014 by Rebecca Ward

aed blue

What is an AED? An Automated External Defibrillator, or AED, is a computerized device that can analyze a persons’ heart rhythm to deliver a lifesaving shock. AEDs are used in life-threatening cases of cardiac arrhythmias, which lead to cardiac arrest. Although AED’s are easy to use, certification is required because an AED is used in conjunction with CPR. Before taking part in AED certification, there are a few basic things to understand about AEDs:

  • An AED can restore a person’s heartbeat to a normal rhythm.
  • AEDs are safe and easy to use.
  • AED’s use voice and visual prompts to guide the rescuer’s actions.

How an AED Works: Ventricular Fibrillation (V-Fib) occurs when the heart is overwhelmed by electrical activity. This is usually related to a lack of oxygen to the heart muscle and can be lethal within minutes if not treated. Individuals experiencing this arrhythmia are often unresponsive with no heartbeat or breathing. CPR can restore the flow of oxygen, but will not stop V-Fib. AED defibrillation is the only treatment for V-Fib. Once the AED is attached to the victim, it detects V-Fib, and then prepares to send a powerful electrical current through the heart. The shock briefly reset the hearts’ electrical activity. This allows the heart to resume a normal heart beat rhythm. The sooner an AED is used after a Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA), the more likely it will be successful. The first few minutes are the most critical; the likelihood that EMS services will be able to respond and be there in the first 5 minutes is not always a reality. Getting AED trained can be time consuming; the course hours are long and have to be done on employee off-time, such as nights and weekends. The workers should volunteer to receive the training, First Aid is about 4-5 hours and CPR/AED is another 4-5 hours (Adult:2 hours, Child/Infant: 1 hour, AED: 1 hour). Learn why volunteer training is valuable here. One solution is to train the employees in ‘Compression Only’ CPR. This training takes about 20 minutes. The downside to this shorter training is they do not receive a CPR card; however, they do get a Certificate of Completion. Then they would be covered under the Good Samaritan Law if they do Compression Only CPR. When attempting to rescue a person, there is a chance that when performing CPR, the victim may receive bruises and fractures around the rib cage, even when it is performed correctly. When using an AED, the rescuer is supplying an electrical shock to the victim. Therefore, for the Good Samaritan Law to protect from liabilities, volunteers must stay within their area of certification, experience, and knowledge. Do you have questions about whether or not your employees should be AED certified? Contact your KPA Risk Management Consultant or email [email protected].

Posted in: Environmental Health and Safety Tags: AED, Automated, Defibrillator, External, How, it, knowledge, safety, works