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How To Use A Defibrillator, What Is It And Who Can It Help?

The Automated External Defibrillator (AED) is an amazing technologically advanced medical device that shocks the heart back into normal rhythm for victims of sudden cardiac arrest. This blog post will explain how to use a defibrillator and break it down into simple steps that even an untrained bystander can use to save a life and increase the survival rate of SCA victims and obtain emergency help as well as warning signs.

What is Sudden Cardiac Arrest?

Sudden cardiac arrest is a condition where the heart suddenly stops beating and therefore does not pump blood to the rest of the body. As soon as someone collapses, call 911 right away while starting CPR if they are unresponsive. After calling for help or checking a person’s responsiveness by tapping on their shoulder or rubbing their sternum, try to find out how long it has been since they have had any type of symptoms such as chest pain. After finding out how long it has been since the person had any symptoms, you can then determine if a defibrillator is needed.

What is Sudden Cardiac Arrest

Ventricular Fibrillation

Ventricular Fibrillation, also known as V-fib, is one of the main causes of sudden cardiac arrest and is characterized by an irregular heartbeat. Some causes of v-fib are a heart attack, an electrical abnormality in the heart, or a loss of blood flow to the brain. When someone is experiencing v-fib they will need CPR and defibrillation immediately.

Precious 10 Minutes

Time is not your friend when attempting to save a victim of SCA. The human body can’t last very long without oxygen. The first ten minutes are critical, it’s time for action! For every minute that goes by without the victim being revived the chances of survival fall by 10%. The American Heart Association, the American Red Cross, and all cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) guidelines recommend immediate CPR to improve the chances of survival with an SCA victim.

Precious 10 Minutes

Different Types of Defibrillators

There are three types of defibrillators, Automated External Defibrillator (AED), Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD), and Wearable Cardioverter Defibrillator (WCD) to use with heart problems.

Automated External Defibrillator (AED)

The Automated External Defibrillator machine is the most common and can be found in public places such as schools, gyms, commercial offices, airports, etc. They are high-quality medical devices that have a low cost of ownership and use an electrode pad to revive a victim if suffering from SCA. AED’s will save lives if used properly and quickly along with CPR.

Automated External Defibrillator (AED)

 Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD)

The ICD is dedicated to patients with structural heart disease or those who’ve survived an episode of sudden cardiac arrest. The ICD is implanted in the chest and will protect the patient from another episode where if SCA is recognized by the device it automatically delivers a shock to try and force the heart back into a normal rhythm.

Wearable Cardioverter Defibrillator (WCD)

The WCD is for those who are at risk of sudden cardiac arrest or have had an episode. It can be worn on a belt, around the arm, or in a pocket. The person’s doctor may want them to use it when they’re engaged in higher-risk activities such as exercise classes.

Wearable Cardioverter Defibrillator (WCD)

Proactive Defibrillation

The ICD and the WCD are both proactive devices for certain high-risk patients that are prone to sudden cardiac arrest. ICD’s and Wearables offer the advantage of being able to detect arrhythmia before it becomes life-threatening and having someone nearby at all times for quick response time

Reactive Defibrillation

Most SCA events occur without warning and can happen to even otherwise extremely healthy individuals. The Automated External Defibrillator is the most often used defibrillator for victims of SCA. Even professional athletes can suffer from SCA. On Sunday, January 14th, 2021 Tottenham Hotspur and Danish midfielder Christian Eriksen was the victim of sudden cardiac arrest. Eriksen went into cardiac arrest during Denmark’s Euro 2020 opener against Finland. Club medical staff quickly rushed to his side and administered CPR but it wasn’t until they noticed his heart had stopped beating that they called for emergency support. An Automated External Defibrillator (AED) was immediately used by the medical team to shock Eriksen’s heart back into rhythm before he was taken by ambulance. Eriksen has made a full recovery.

Reactive Defibrillation

How to use a defibrillator

The modern Automated External Defibrillator is easy and straightforward to operate. Follow these steps to use an AED:

Find the victim of sudden cardiac arrest as quickly as possible, call 911 if they’re not breathing or have no pulse. Note that agonal breathing can mask normal breathing, where the victim seems like they are experiencing very labored breathing almost like wheezing.

How to Use an AED on an Adult

Step by step instructions for using a defibrillator on an adult:

  1. To use a defibrillator, confirm the patient is experiencing cardiac arrest by checking for any breathing and ensuring they are unconscious.
  2. Turn on the AED. This is achieved by lifting the lid and/or pressing an “On” button.
  3. Defibrillators are for medical emergencies and can be used to restart someone’s heart when they have had a cardiac arrest. Place the pads over the patient’s bare chest, allowing their skin to make contact with both pads. Use the diagram on each pad as a guide.
  4. Connect the pads to the defibrillator if they are not already connected.
  5. Stand clear of the patient while searchers for a shockable rhythm using an AED.
  6. You must follow the AED’s voice prompts and AED steps on how to use an AED; press the “Shock” button only if instructed, or allow the AED to shock automatically for Fully-Automatic models.
  7. After the electric shock, continue to perform CPR on the patient and proceed to emergency services.
  8. After following instructions for 2 minutes, the AED might prompt you to stop CPR and analyze. Follow the prompts as instructed, performing two minutes of CPR before an analysis is run again. Continue until emergency services arrive. Note there is one AED on the market, the Physio-Control CR2 Automated External Defibrillator AED which allows the first responder to continue to perform compressions while the AED analyzes the patient.

How to Use an AED on a Child

Step by step instructions for using a defibrillator on a child:

  1. You’ll need to confirm that the patient is experiencing cardiac arrest (not breathing and unconscious).
  2. Turn on the AED by pressing the “On” button and/or opening the lid.
  3. If it is possible, attach pediatric pads to the defibrillator.
  4. Place the pads on the chest and back, so that one pad is touching each side of the sternum unless your AED shows a different set of instructions for pediatric pad placement.
  5. Stand clear of the patient.
  6. You must follow the Automated External Defibrillators voice commands on how to use an AED; press the “Shock” button only if instructed, or allow the AED to shock automatically for Fully-Automatic models.
  7. Perform CPR chest compressions until the patient regains consciousness. Push the chest to ⅓ depth of the chest, no more than 2 inches (5 centimeters).

Automated external defibrillator adult pads are configured for use on patients over 8 years of age and over 55 pounds.

If child pads are available alongside the defibrillator, they should be utilized for child patients under 8 years old or less than 55 pounds. If no child pads are available, then the AED should still be used with the pre-connected adult pads. Some AEDs, like the Physio-Control CR2 AED, will also have a child button that allows you to adjust the instruction and voltage at the touch of a button with no need to change any electrode pads. If your AED has a child button or separate child pads, make the necessary adjustments immediately.

It is critical to act fast when someone suddenly collapses and you are unsure of the cause, as every minute that goes by without the victim of SCA being revived, that person’s chance of surviving falls by about ten percent!

Basic information on How To Use A Defibrillator: What Is It And Who Can It Help?

There are many different types of AEDs available today that can be used in an emergency situation for people with life-threatening SCA. Automated external defibrillators (AEDs) require no formal training because they are designed to coach a first responder through what is typically a very stressful medical event. AEDs now give audible and clear instructions on how to proceed through life-saving defibrillation including CPR coaching with most modern AEDs.

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