How to Save a Life: AED

Cardiac arrest accounts for approximately 890 deaths per day in the United States with most of these deaths occurring outside of a hospital. The current out-of-hospital survival rate is only 1-5 percent, and the average response time for emergency providers is about nine minutes. The chance that someone will die of cardiac arrest in nine minutes is a staggering 90 percent. These statistics are not only scary, but highlight the importance of having and knowing how to use an Automated External Defibrillator (AED).

What is an AED?

If someone is suffering from cardiac arrest or arrhythmia, an AED can help restore a normal heartbeat by sending an electric pulse to shock the heart. Not only are AEDs life-savers, they are also simple enough for an untrained bystander to use in an emergency.

What do I need to know about buying one? Symptoms of Cardiac Arrest

Most AEDs cost around $1,500 on average. While having one in the workplace is incredibly important, it’s also important to consider what steps to consider pre- and post-purchase.

  • Consult a local physician, as AEDs often have to be purchased with a prescription.
  • Have a company training day on how to use an AED and how to perform CPR.
  • Let your local Emergency Medical Service (EMS) and fire department know that you have purchased an AED.
  • Clearly label the AED and communicate its location so employees know where to find the device in case of emergency.
  • Employees should know who is trained and how to contact those individuals.

How do I know if someone is in cardiac arrest?

Sudden cardiac arrest symptoms are abrupt and extreme, including:

  • Sudden collapse.
  • No pulse.
  • No breathing or only gasping.
  • Loss of consciousness.

At times sudden cardiac arrest is preceded by symptoms such as dizziness, chest pain, weakness, shortness of breath, or palpitations. But overall, cardiac arrest occurs without any warning.

My workplace has an AED, but I haven’t gone through training. How do I use it?

Though AEDs are simple to use regardless of training, there are a few things you need to do before using one in an emergency.

  1. Call 911.
  2. Assess the situation to understand what is happening.
  3. Check the person’s vital signs. Is he or she responsive?
  4. If the person is unresponsive, open his/her airway by tilting his/her head back and lifting his/her chin.
  5. Perform CPR for approximately two minutes.
  6. Switch on the AED and follow the visual/voice prompts.
  7. Remove clothing and jewelry on or near the chest.
  8. Place the electrode pads on the individual’s chest and do not touch them while the AED is accessing their heartbeat.
  9. Continue CPR for two minutes.
  10. Repeat until an ambulance arrives.

Know that usage may vary between machines, so be sure to follow instructions based on the unit that is in your workplace. AEDs are reliable enough to use on children, teenagers and adults. Built-in computers assess the patient’s heart rhythm, decide if defibrillation is necessary, and then administer a shock. If the patient does not need a shock, the machine will not defibrillate.


Filed under Education
Caroline Hogan

Caroline Hogan

Marketing and Communications Intern

Caroline Hogan is the Corporate Communications Intern at GuideOne. In this role, she creates content for social media and writes blogs for the website.

When she isn’t working, you’ll find Caroline reading Stephen King novels, hiking anything above elevation or crying along with a romantic comedy.  

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