When Preparing an AED For Use What is the First Thing You Should Do?

First, let me define that AED stands for Automated External Defibrillator and these portable defibrillator devices are designed to recognize and treat Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA), a leading cause of death all over the world.

There are two very important times when an AED owner would prepare an AED for use. First, there is AED training and maintenance which is what we call “Before You Have an Emergency” and second is actually deploying your portable defibrillator to save a life which we refer to as “During an Emergency”. This is where AED training and the learned AED skills could save a life.

Before You Have an Emergency

To prepare all automated external defibrillators for use before you have an emergency, the first thing is to make sure your AED has a battery that will be able to power the device.

Before you have an emergency

AEDs are very important tools for first responders and those who own an AED as a precaution to prevent death from sudden cardiac arrest. The most important thing to do before using the AED is to check its battery level, expiration date, and make sure it has been properly maintained according to the manufacturer’s instructions. All AED manufacturers recommend ongoing readiness checks and at AED USA we recommend at least monthly checks for all our customers. Our AEDMD Management Tool is FREE to our customers and automates the tracking of AED pads and battery expiration dates from one to 1000’s of AED all around the world. In addition, our readiness check system allows you to easily set up AED managers for every AED in your organization and send readiness check notifications on a monthly basis allowing each manager to perform a readiness check on their cell phone usually in 60 seconds or less. In this blog post, we will discuss what you should do when preparing your AED for use in order to maintain a high-quality product that can be relied on during an emergency situation.

During an Emergency

The first thing you should do when preparing an Automated External Defibrillator for use is to stay calm.

During an emergency

The fact that you are deploying an AED to possibly save a life means that someone is in distress. SCA events are some of the most hi stress environments because of the following:

  • Unless your a trained first responder, this might only happen once in your lifetime.
  • You may know the individual or they could be a family member so it is imperative to not panic when you see them in this state.
  • A person’s life is on the line and adrenaline will typically kick in and can affect your decision-making ability.

Most people have never used an AED. The unknowns can be scary and why training for yourself and your employees is so important in an emergency. Just like a professional athlete training their body for muscle memory, you should train yourself and your employees to have muscle memory for your emergency plan. Knowing what to do and when to do it without having to think will dramatically help in a high-stress emergency event.

Call 911, Start CPR, Use an AED

Call 911 Immediately

If you witness a person who appears to be having a cardiac event, immediately call for medical assistance. The average response time after an emergency call to 911 is 8-12 minutes. If that person is suffering from SCA, each minute that passes when a person isn’t defibrillated, the chance of survival is reduced by 10%.

Call 911 immediately

Start CPR

It is imperative to start CPR no matter if an AED (Automated External Defibrillator) is immediately available or not. CPR will circulate oxygen and blood to the brain, heart, and other vital organs until emergency responders arrive with advanced equipment that can resuscitate the victim. CPR will give the victim a chance of survival if oxygen is not starved from the brain.

Use an AED

Find and use an AED as soon as possible. The AED will analyze the victim’s heart and determine if they are suffering from SCA and if needed the device will either automatically apply a shock or if using a semi-automatic AED the device will instruct the responder to apply the shock button. If a higher level of care than what bystanders are able to administer, this is where CPR/AED training courses that take just a few short hours to complete, can save lives.

What to do when preparing the AED:

What to do when preparing the AED

The American Red Cross training recommends the following guidelines that should be reviewed periodically:

  1. Turn on the AED and follow the visual and/or audio prompts.
  2. Open the person’s shirt and wipe his or her bare chest dry. If the person is wearing any medication patches, you should use a gloved (if possible) hand to remove the patches before wiping the person’s chest.
  3. Attach the AED pads, and plug in the connector (if necessary).
  4. Make sure no one is, including you, is touching the person. Tell everyone to “stand clear.”
  5. Push the “analyze” button (if necessary) and allow the AED to analyze the person’s heart rhythm.
  6. If the AED recommends a shock advised to the person, make sure that no one, including you, is touching the person – and tell everyone to “stand clear.” Once clear, press the “shock” button.
  7. Begin CPR after delivering the shock on the victim’s chest. Or, if no shock is advised, begin CPR. Perform 2 minutes (about 5 cycles) of CPR and continue to follow the AED’s prompts. If you notice obvious signs of life, discontinue CPR and monitor breathing for any changes in condition.

Types of Ventricular Arrhythmias

Arrhythmias that begin in the ventricles (lower chambers of the heart) can be life-threatening and require immediate medical attention. Ventricular tachycardia (VT) can lead to ventricular fibrillation (VFib).

Ventricular tachycardia

This is an arrhythmia that has a rapid, regular heartbeat (more than 100 beats per minute) and can last for just a few seconds or much longer. VT is a medical condition in which the ventricles cannot completely contract. The longer VT lasts, the greater the risk that it will become VFib. Ventricular tachycardia is an abnormal heart rhythm that often results in a cardiac arrest.

Ventricular fibrillation

This type of rapid heartbeat is severely abnormal and causes the ventricles to quiver ineffectively. When a patient has Ventricular Fibrillation, there is not enough oxygen going to the body. Ventricular fibrillation (VFib) can lead to sudden cardiac arrest and death within minutes.

People with long QT syndrome, an electrical problem that affects the heart’s ability to recharge after one heartbeat, may develop VT. Torsades de pointes is a type of arrhythmia that causes an irregular heartbeat. It is important to perform a breath check, in order to determine if it was just short-term torsades de pointes. If the episode lasts longer, VFib can result and lead to serious

Here are some pertinent FAQs:

What should you do before the AED analyzes rhythm?

The first thing to do is to call 911 but all modern AED’s will walk you through the steps to follow and will guide the user to stop CPR if needed to analyze the victim’s status. Note that with the introduction of cprINSIGHT analysis technology in the Physio-Control LIFEPAK CR2 defibrillator, pausing for ECG analysis and device charging is reduced, subsiding or even removing pauses that previously existed. This in turn exponentially increases the time spent with chest compressions, which ultimately leads to an increase in compression fraction.

What is the first thing you should do when an AED arrives on the scene when you are the only trained responder?

Call 911 Immediately

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