Automated External Defibrillators, generally known as AEDs, have impacted health around the world and saved millions of lives.

Studies show that cardiac arrest commonly claims more experiences in the United States than cancer, fires, firearms, traffic accidents, and AIDS combined. AEDs are far more common than most may think and are now located in many public places.

Using an AEDs does not require formal training, and non-essential personnel can efficiently operate one, but training is available for those that may need additional guidance.

1. What to Expect When Using an AED

AEDs are straightforward to use. The On switch and movable electrodes are the essential components to find during an emergency. AEDs vary from model to model, and there are four universal steps to operating an AED in a live scenario.

Expect When Using an AEDs

2. Locate the On button and power on the AED.

Attach the electrode pads to the chest of the person that is experiencing perceived cardiac arrest.
After attaching the pads, be sure that no one is touching the victim for the AED to analyze the heart rhythm properly.

There may be an Analyze button to push on your AED to start this process.
Make sure that no one would be touching the victim and then press the shock button.

After the shock is administered, you should receive a clear message that the excitement was successful or unsuccessful.

Pediatric pads should be used for patients one to eight years old that weigh less than 55 pounds. If you think a child might be eight or older but are not sure, it’s safe to use the adult pads.

3. Ongoing Maintenance

Sudden cardiac arrest is the leading cause of death in North America and Europe. Odds of survival decline by seven to ten percent per minute of delay in defibrillation.

Creating a consistent maintenance routine is highly recommended in keeping AEDs working correctly. It can significantly increase the chance of survival for persons that suffer from cardiac arrest in an emergency.

It’s vital to maintain an AED and follow manufacturer instructions for both care and usage. Depending on your machine, recommended checks that should be performed can include:

  • Checking the status indicator light if your device has one.
  • I was checking the exterior of the AED for any damage.
  • Checking all parts of the AED for expiration dates and ordering replacement parts as needed before the expiration date.
  • Training either staff or family members to ensure they are informed of where the AED is stored.
  • I am installing any mandatory or optional programming updates to the AED unit if needed.

4. Battery

AEDs are powered with lithium batteries that should be stored in cold, dry environments that are away from water. Both the AED battery and electrode pads have expiration dates, and it’s vital to ensure that items are replaced before the expiration date.

When looking for the expiration date on your battery, you may see three years, such as the expiration date, a manufactured date, and the install date.

Be sure to replace the battery before the expiration date, not the made or install times.

5. Electrode Pads

Problems with pads and connectors have been accounted for 23.7 percent of total AED failures. Replacing AED pads is a critical function of maintaining your equipment.

AED pads have a typical lifespan of two to four years because of the erosion of the water-based gel that can form the seal between the electrode and the patient’s skin that happens over time. The wiring can also wear out or become damaged over time.

Keeping fresh or even a spare set of pads within the expiration date is another critical area that impacts your AED’s successful performance in an emergency.

6. AED Training

Training for proper handling and usage of AEDs is available through many organizations and the American Red Cross. AED training covers multiple components, such as:

  • Current research
  • The history of defibrillators
  • The four critical links to the chain of survival
  • The science behind cardiac arrest
  • The connection between CPR and an AED
  • Using an AED
  • Post resuscitation care
  • Overview of an AED rescue sequence
  • Recommended additional preparation
  • AED practice
  • A question and answer session

Most AED training is available in person or through e-learning formats. Even though AEDs are specifically designed for ease of use, AED training can help people feel calmer and more comfortable in handling AED equipment during an emergency.