The benefits of using AEDs in emergency situations is very important to understand to use it properly. What constitutes an emergency situation? Is it a scenario where someone unexpectedly drops to the floor and loses breath? Is it the event of near-drowning? Yes, and yes — emergency situations can happen to anyone and at any place.
In addition, nowadays, the most common medical emergency Americans face is sudden cardiac arrest (SCA). In fact, according to the American Heart Association’s report, hundreds of thousands of cardiac arrests happen out of hospital premises in a year!
In the event of SCA, using automated external defibrillators can save a life in seconds! Continue reading below to discover the benefits of using AEDs, as well as learn about reading a person’s vital signs in emergency situations.
What Are AEDs and Why Are They of Vital Importance?
Automated external defibrillators, AEDs for short, are compact and lightweight portable devices used to deliver an electrical shock to the heart in the case of a sudden cardiac arrest. When a person falls unconscious, the shock of the AED can restore a normal heartbeat and prevent brain and heart damage.
In combination with cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), AEDs are literally the ultimate lifesaver. Lacking prompt CPR and AED use can lead to lesser survival chances. On the contrary, according to the North Dakota Safety Council, an SCA victim that received defibrillation using an AED in combination with CPR had a 95% chance of survival.
The key feature of AEDs is to save lives and fortify the Chain of Survival. In fact, AEDs deliver unmatched first-aid treatment to victims of abrupt cardiac arrest by restoring a normal sinus rhythm. Thankfully, all of us can learn how to use an AED in emergency situations since many U.S. states have imposed AED regulations.
Schools and high-traffic areas are most prone to be the place where a person suffers an SCA, which is why some local authorities have taken all the precautionary measures and ensured there’s a public-access AED in sight.
In addition, workspaces in the U.S. are also not excluded from the list of high-risk locations that could see SCA fatalities. Namely, close to 10,000 cardiac arrests happen at the workplace every year. Such incidence rates have urged conscious employers to create disaster preparedness plans and cardiac emergency plans. The key component in cardiac emergency plans is an automated external defibrillator.
Key Benefits of Using AEDs in Emergency Situations
As we mentioned, medical professionals aren’t the only ones to use AEDs; in fact, the recommendation is that all households and workplaces have an AED. Moreover, cardiologists also suggest people with known cardiac issues carry a wearable AED on them.
Let’s have a look at the most prominent benefits of using an AED in emergency situations.
- An automated external defibrillator improves the survival rate of SCA victims and people suffering a heart attack;
- Untrained individuals can use AEDs;
- They are easy to operate and are self-explanatory;
- If the EMS (emergency medical services) is nowhere close to an SCA victim, anyone who’s close by can press the button on the AED to deliver the needed electrical shock to the heart;
- Fully automated, public-access AEDs are portable and easy to carry;
- AEDs analyze the heart rhythm to deliver accurate shocks;
- An AED handler does not need to intervene — the machine delivers shocks automatically;
- AEDs come with integrated communication systems that alarm rescuers which steps need to be followed. The handler is fully aware of when the device will deliver the shock;
- On-site AEDs save crucial time until EMS personnel arrive;
- AEDs are the only medical devices that can restore the heart rhythm in case of ventricular fibrillation;
- AEDs are battery-operated and transportable;
- AEDs are safe to use and prevent accidental use.
When it comes to victims of SCA and AEDs, it’s utterly important to remember that timely intervention makes all the difference. For instance, the initial three minutes after a person collapses are crucial to their survival. Serious cranial damage can occur if an AED isn’t used within those three minutes.
Time is paramount in emergency situations like heart attacks and SCAs! Each delay of defibrillation brings the victim closer to a fatal outcome.
Who’s Allowed to Use an AED?
Medical personnel are not the only ones allowed to handle AEDs. AEDs, especially public-access AEDs, are particularly designed to be easily operated by laypeople, i.e., untrained individuals.
Everyone that’s not a medical professional is allowed and encouraged to use an AED. These profiles include:
- Police officers;
- Flight attendants;
- Security guards;
- Family members of high-risk cardiac patients;
- Gym trainers;
- Bystanders, and more.
People tend to panic when facing emergency situations, so slow down and handle the situation calmly. Start by turning the device on. Once you’ve done it, it will guide you through the necessary steps to help an SCA victim.
But, basically, you won’t need to do anything — the machine will assess the heart activity and decide if and when to deliver shocks, thus relieving the handler from responsibility.
Where Can You Find an AED?
While out and about, if you see a person lose consciousness and drop to the floor, your first instinct (probably) will be to run over to help. That’s great! Now, how do you help? Do you do CPR or some other form of first aid activity? Do you use an AED?
As we mentioned, most public places are required to have an AED, so be sure to look around for a transparent box labeled “AED” or “Automated External Defibrillator.” Look for a box usually mounted on a wall, labeled for visibility and easy to reach. Once you find it, take the AED out of the box.
Most commonly, public-access AEDs are placed near entrances, kitchens, lobbies, near landlines, and similar areas. As far as AED requirements for public places go, local authorities can impose mandatory AED possession in shopping malls, schools, airports, gyms, places of worship, and other areas with a lot of foot traffic.
Common Questions About AEDs
Being curious about the functionality of an automated external defibrillator is totally fine, and even welcomed. People who have yet to use an AED have many questions concerning the proper use, among other aspects.
To understand the Benefits of Using AEDs in Emergency Situations, let’s look closely at the most frequently asked questions about AEDs.
Is AED training mandatory?
No, you don’t have to be trained in CPR or first aid to be able to use an AED. Everyone is encouraged to know some basic first aid techniques, but nothing is mandatory. All it takes is the will and preparedness to help and become a lifesaver in an emergency situation.
Can using an AED hurt someone?
In a nutshell, no, you can’t cause harm to a person receiving defibrillation. The reason for this is because AEDs are designed to automatically deliver electrical shocks if they assess the gravity of the cardiac state that requires shocking.
Can an AED be used on a child?
Of course, AEDs are safe for use on children and infants. Even though some argue that AEDs are intended for adult use, the majority of modern AEDs come with pediatric features and settings, like lesser shocking power, and special pediatric pads. One can safely use these types of AEDs on children with a weight of under 55 pounds.
Do AEDs have expiration dates?
No, an AED device has no expiration date. However, the batteries and pads do. If you own an at-home AED, be sure to check the batteries every once in a while and follow the manufacturer’s instructions regarding the lifespan of the pads.
Final Thoughts: The Benefits of Using AEDs in Emergency Situations
If you ever find yourself in a medical emergency involving your heart, would you feel safer knowing that the person next to you can save your life? In an SCA scenario, it takes a couple of minutes for the victim to fall further into a state of unconsciousness or restore their heart rhythm.
In such cases, having (and using) an automated external defibrillator on a victim of sudden cardiac arrest or a heart attack can mean a life-or-death decision. From being easy to handle and practically self-functioning machines, AEDs are the ultimate means to bring a person back to life until further treatment by medical personnel. This should help you have a better understanding of the benefits of using AEDs in emergency situations.