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Resources - AED FAQs

What is an AED?
An AED (Automatic External Defibrillator) is a device that analyzes and looks for shockable heart rhythms, advises the rescuer of the need for defibrillation, and delivers a shock if needed.

Will I hurt the victim by using an AED?
When used on people who are unresponsive and not breathing, the AED is extremely safe.The AED makes shock delivery decisions based upon the victim's heart rhythm, and will only defibrillate a shockable rhythm.

What is Sudden Cardiac Arrest?
Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) simply means that the heart unexpectedly & abruptly quits beating. This is usually caused by an abnormal heart rhythm called ventricular fibrillation (VF).

Is SCA the same as a heart attack?
No. A heart attack is a condition in which the blood supply to the heart muscle is suddenly blocked, resulting in the death of the heart muscle.Heart attack victims usually (but not always) experience chest pain and usually remain conscious.Heart attacks are serious and sometimes will lead to SCA.However, SCA may occur independently from a heart attack and without warning signs. SCA results in death if not treated immediately.

What if I forget the steps for using an AED?
The steps for shocking an SCA victim are simple and straightforward.AEDS provide visual (some but not all) and audio prompts required for the entire resuscitation process.The most difficult part is recognizing the need for defibrillation.

Should I perform CPR first or apply electrode pads from the AED?
Do CPR only until the AED arrives.Apply the electrode pads to the victim's bare chest and follow the voice prompts and messages of the AED.It will tell you when to resume CPR.

If defibrillation is so important, why should I do CPR?
CPR provides some circulation of oxygen rich blood to the victim's heart and brain.This circulation delays both brain death and the death of heart muscle.CPR also makes the heart more likely to respond to defibrillation.

Can I accidentally shock another rescuer or myself?
AEDs are extremely safe when used properly. The electric shock is programmed to go from one electrode pad to another through the victim's chest.Basic precautions, such a verbally warning others to stand clear and visually checking the area before and during the shock, will virtually ensure the safety of rescuers.

Do I need to remove the electrode pads before performing CPR?
No. The electrode pads remain on throughout the resuscitation and until the victim is transferred to advanced care providers such as the paramedics.If the electrode pads are in their correct locations on the victim's chest, they will not interfere with proper hand placement or compressions.

What if the victim regains a pulse but is not breathing or is breathing slowly?
You should give rescue breaths at a rate of 1 every 5 seconds or 12 per minute.

What if I don't perform all the steps of CPR and defibrillation perfectly?
SCA is a high stress situation.Even experienced health care providers do not do everything perfectly.In SCA, performing CPR and using an AED can only help the victim.

What if I'm not certain whether or not I need to use an AED?
Remember this rule: only use an AED on someone you would do CPR on - unresponsive and not breathing.

 

 
In Loving Memory of
Adam J Kausak

July 26, 1986 - January 17, 2002
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