How to use a Defibrillator (AED)

What is an AED?

An AED or Automated External Defibrillator is a portable electronic 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; you would use it to resettle an irregular heartbeat.

The device would typically contain a face shield so that you can also apply CPR. It would also have 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 essential 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 are located in a portable plastic 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 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.

Before using a defibrillator, you need to ensure that an ambulance is on its way. If someone hasn’t retrieved the AED yet, start CPR. When the AED arrives, please turn it on, and the device will begin 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 casualty’s chest. In some circumstances, the casualty may have thick chest hair, which you need to remove 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 lengthways. 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 device will tell you when it is clear to continue with CPR.

To learn more about using an AED or how to conduct CPR, you can book one of our First Aid courses. Please 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

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

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