An automated external defibrillator (AED) is a lightweight, portable device that delivers an
electric shock through the chest to the heart. The shock can potentially stop an irregular heart beat (arrhythmia) and allow a normal rhythm to resume following sudden cardiac arrest (SCA).
SCA occurs when the heart malfunctions and stops beating unexpectedly. If not treated within minutes, it quickly leads to death. Most SCAs result from ventricular fibrillation (VF).
VF is a rapid and unsynchronized heart rhythm that originates in the heart’s lower chambers
(the ventricles). The heart must be “defibrillated” quickly, because a victim’s chance of surviving drops by seven to 10 percent for every minute a normal heartbeat isn’t restored.
Cardiac arrest can strike without warning
Do you suspect that someone is experiencing cardiac arrest? Here are the signs:
- Sudden loss of responsiveness The person doesn’t respond, even if you tap him or her hard on the shoulders, or ask loudly if he or she is OK. The person doesn’t move, speak, blink or otherwise react.
- No normal breathing The person isn’t breathing or is only gasping for air.
What to do
If you have tried and failed to get the person to respond, and you think the person may be suffering cardiac arrest, here’s what to do:
- Yell for help Tell someone nearby to call 911 or your emergency response number. Ask that person or another bystander to bring you an AED (automated external defibrillator), if there’s one on hand. Tell them to hurry – time is of the essence.
- If you’re alone with an adult who has these signs of cardiac arrest, call 911 and get an AED (if one is available).
- Check breathing If the person isn’t breathing or is only gasping, administer CPR.
- Give CPR: Push hard and fast Push down at least two inches at a rate of 100 to 120 pushes a minute in the center of the chest, allowing the chest to come back up to its normal position after each push.
- Use an AED Use the automated external defibrillator as soon as it arrives. Turn it on and follow the prompts.
- Keep pushing Continue administering CPR until the person starts to breathe or move, or until someone with more advanced training takes over, such as an EMS team member.
People often use these terms interchangeably, but they are not synonyms. A heart attack is when blood flow to the heart is blocked, and sudden cardiac arrest is when the heart malfunctions and suddenly stops beating unexpectedly. A heart attack is a “circulation” problem and sudden cardiac arrest is an “electrical” problem.
A poster with instructions will be posted for easy reference. In addition, each AED has voice prompts that will walk you through the steps.
All first-response vehicles, including ambulances, law enforcement vehicles and many fire engines should have an AED.
AEDs also should be placed in public areas such as sports venues, shopping malls, airports, airplanes, businesses, convention centers, hotels, schools and doctors’ offices. They should also be in any other public or private place where large numbers of people
gather or where people at high risk for heart attacks live.
They should be placed near elevators, cafeterias, main reception areas, and on walls in main corridors
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Internationally, there is not a “black market” AEDs.
The cabinets that store the AED is a monitored device in that it is alarmed, is able to take pictures when the door is opened, will send a text/email to a monitoring alert team.
Also, each AED has a serial number that is registered in a National database which would identify the owner of the device at any time.
State Laws on Cardiac Arrest and Defibrillators can help explain how bystanders are protected when helping in an emergency. http://www.ncsl.org/research/health/laws-on-cardiac-arrest-and-defibrillators-aeds.aspx