How to use a Defibrillator (AED)

What is an AED?

An AED or Automated External Defibrillator is an electronic portable apparatus used in first aid. You use the device as an automated diagnosis of heart-related incidents. The administration of electrical therapy allows the heart to re-establish a stable rhythm. A defibrillator cannot start a stopped heart, it is used to resettle an irregular heartbeat.

The device would normally contain a face shield so that you can also apply CPR. It would also contain rubber gloves, trauma shears, and a razor to shave hairy chests.

A defibrillator gives you the facility to use it on an adult and children over the age of one with the option of two sets of pads.

Use the AED to assist with first aid until an ambulance arrives. Defibrillators can double the chances of a casualty’ survival so it is important to know where to find one in the case of an emergency.

Where to find a defibrillator (AED)

AED DifibrillatorAED’s are becoming more common as pieces of first aid equipment in most public places and buildings. They can be located in a plastic portable box in a green casing (which is marked). In buildings with many storeys, they are placed in elevators to allow ease of transportation.

How to use a defibrillator (AED)

People with no training on how to use an AED should be able to use it with no trouble. All you need to do is place the pads in the correct areas as directed on each one and follow the instructions provided.

Before using a defibrillator you need to make sure that an ambulance is on its way and if the AED hasn’t been retrieved yet that someone is conducting CPR. The moment the AED arrives; turn it on and the device will start to give you a series of audial and visual instructions. Follow the instructions until an ambulance arrives or in some circumstances an experienced first aider.

Step by step:

  • Defibrillator TrainingCut through or remove any obstructing clothing from the casualty and wipe any sweat from the chest of the casualty. In some circumstances, the casualty may have thick chest hair which will need to be removed if possible.
  • Take the pads from their packs and peel off the backing cover. Once you have done so attach onto the casualty’s chest length-ways. Place one pad on the upper right side and the other on the left just below the armpit.
  • AED TrainingOnce they are in position the device will start to monitor the heart rhythm of the casualty. The area should be clear and no one should be touching the casualty; when the machine instructs you to deliver a shock to the casualty. In between the shocks the machine will tell you when it is clear to continue with CPR.

To learn more about how to use an AED or how to conduct CPR you can book onto one of our First Aid courses. Take a look at our courses available here.

When should you not use a defibrillator?

There are a few situations in which it would be too dangerous to use a defibrillator.

  • Do not use an AED if a casualty is in water or covered in water.
  • Also, do not use an AED if a casualty is covered in sweat.
  • If the casualty has a pacemaker, do not place the AED over it.
  • Civilians should not use a defibrillator on a child under 12 months.

First Aid Myths: What Not To Do

Take a look at what you should and shouldn’t do when it comes to rumours surrounding first aid here.

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