When and How to Use an AED

If the unthinkable happened and the heart of someone near you stopped beating, would you know what to do? And, even if you did know what to do, would you have the equipment necessary to revive that person?

Chances are the answer to both of these questions is no.

Only one in five Americans understand basic CPR, and only a little more than a quarter of Americans have an Automated External Defibrillator (or AED) in their workplace.

If you don't feel confident using an AED, or if you don't know when it's appropriate to use one, keep reading. Explained below is everything you need to know about when and how to use an AED.

What Is an AED?

An AED is a special device that sends an electric shock to the heart through the chest wall.

AEDs contain built-in computers that assess an individual's heart rhythm and determine where defibrillation is necessary.

An AED is meant to be used on an individual who has gone into cardiac arrest, meaning their heart has stopped beating.

When to Use an AED

Every year, more than 350,000 cardiac arrests take place in a non-hospital setting. An AED can be used to help these individuals until they can be transported to the hospital.

When someone goes into cardiac arrest, they typically faint. They also stop breathing and their heart stops beating (or their heartbeat may become irregular). If you notice these symptoms, an AED could help to restore the individual's heartbeat and revive them.

An AED can be used on people of all ages, including infants and the elderly.

When NOT to Use an AED

The only time you should not use an AED is if the situation appears to be unsafe.

An AED should never be used when a person is lying in water -- even just a shallow puddle. If this is the case, there's a possibility that the electrical current could carry to bystanders and to you, the person who's trying to administer help.

If the victim is wet, you need to move them to a dry location, dry their wet skin, and remove their wet clothing before you try to use an AED.

You also should never use an AED around combustible materials like flowing oxygen.

How to Use an AED

Now that you know when to use an AED, it's time to go over how to use it.

AEDs are actually quite simple to use. They come with instructions and are designed so that anyone can use them. You can even use them on infants and children!

Listed below are the steps you'll need to take if you ever find yourself in a situation where someone near you has gone into cardiac arrest:

Assessing the Scene

Before you start using an AED, you need to survey the scene and make sure that the situation warrants it.

If you see someone faint or come across someone who has lost consciousness, the first thing you need to do is to confirm that they are unresponsive.

Shout at the person and ask if they are okay or can hear you. Shake them gently or tap them on the shoulders, too (unless the person is a young child or infant -- in that case, gently pinch them).

If the person is unresponsive, lean over them to see if you can feel them breathing. Check their pulse at their neck or wrist to see if their heart has stopped beating or is beating irregularly.

Using the AED

If the person is unresponsive, is not breathing, and their heart has stopped beating, you should use the AED to try and revive them.

Once you've retrieved the AED, turn it on. Once you've turned the AED on, your next step is to expose the person's chest and apply the pads.

One of the pads should be placed on the right portion of the chest, below the person's collar bone. The other pad should be placed on the lower portion of the left side of the chest.

If the pads are not already connected to the device, connect them.

Next, clear the victim. Look up and down and make sure that no one is touching them. Then, state loudly, "clear." Push the shock button on the AED to administer a shock to the victim.

The AED will measure the person's heartbeat after the shock has been administered to determine whether or not another one is necessary. The device can also guide you through CPR if needed.

Who Should Have an AED on Hand?

AEDs are available in many public places, including office buildings, malls, and on airplanes. Some people also choose to purchase a defibrillator to keep in their home.

This is definitely something to consider, especially since 68.5 percent of all out-of-hospital cardiac arrests occur at or around a home or residence.

It's especially helpful to have a defibrillator in your home if you or someone else in your family is at high risk of experiencing cardiac arrest or is in generally poor health.

If an AED is not available in the building in which you work, it's a good idea to petition to have on hand there, too.

Approximately 10,000 cardiac arrests occur in the workplace each year, so having a reliable defibrillator easily accessible could potentially be an incredible lifesaver.

Purchase an AED Today

It can definitely be intimidating learning to use an AED for the first time.

Remember, though, that it's always better to be knowledgeable and prepared than to be unsure of what to do in the event that an emergency arises.

Now that you know when and how to use an AED, do you think you need to purchase one in your workplace or at home?

If you're interested in buying an AED for your office, your home, or for another location, head to our online store today.

We have a wide range of AEDs available for you to choose from, along with accessories, adaptors, and a variety of other tools.