Steps in Using an AED
Cardiac arrest is one of the leading causes of deaths in the US, with a person dying of a heart-related condition every 33 seconds. However, the survival rate for sudden cardiac arrest is quite high if proper medical attention is given. In most CPR courses, this means a quick call for medical assistance, the administering of CPR and using an AED, all before getting advanced hospital care.
While institutions like the workplace approved have been tirelessly campaigning for people to take First Aid and CPR courses so they can help out during emergencies, incidences where people are sued for allegedly harming a cardiac arrest victim have made people wary of extending help. But Good Samaritan laws that are now in place gives legal protection to people who are willing to administer first aid as long as it’s done in good faith and no financial remuneration is expected.
How to Assess the Emergency Situation
Before administering any medical procedure, there are several things that one must check and look out for –
- The surrounding must be checked to ensure that both the patient and the person providing assistance are safe. If an AED is to be used, the person administering first aid should ensure that the patient is not near flammable materials and is not touching any liquid.
- Check the patient’s responses by tapping the ground, shouting and getting the patient’s attention. Call 911 or other emergency numbers immediately if there’s no response.
- Remember to check ABCs – airway, breathing and circulation.
How to Use an AED
If CPR is not having any effect, circumstances might dictate that an AED should be used. Check the immediate area for an AED or if there are other people, have them look for the AED while you continue with CPR. Public areas like airports or rail stations often have personnel with First Aid certification who can provide instructions on what to do as well as alert EMTs.
- If an AED was already located, turn it on. Some AED models would require a handle to be pulled or would need a button to be pushed for it to turn on.
- Listen to AED voice prompts carefully and follow the instructions.
- Take off the patient’s clothing so that the abdomen, arms and chest are exposed.
- Peel off the AED pads and position as shown in the instructions. Accuracy is crucial so don’t panic and take your time in placing the pads correctly.
- Most AEDs will begin to analyze the patient’s heart rhythm as soon as the pads are attached. However, some models might require that you turn on the analyze button. Never touch the patient while the defibrillation process is in progress.
- Push the button once the AED’s shock advice prompt appears, but make sure that there’s no touching the patient, no metal or water is touching the patient and that the patient isn’t wearing a nitro patch. Some AEDs will only deliver one shock on the highest energy setting while some would deliver up to 3 shocks. CPR should then be administered for 2 minutes after the AED shock has been delivered.
Admittedly, the laws concerning the use of AEDs are still a big
vague and this might cause some concern to even the most well-meaning of people. However, if the patient is really under cardiac arrest, he or she is technically considered dead so it’s impossible to do more harm and administering CPR or using an AED can only do good.