This week Sound Family Medicine purchased a replacement AED (automated external defibrillator) for my clinic. I underwent a training session for use with the new device. It took about 1 minute. Open the container. Apply the pads. Turn on the machine. If it says to shock the patient make sure no one is touching the patient and push the button to deliver the shock. There are some details, primarily that you need to assure the patient is not breathing and does not have a heart beat, should first call 911, and if possible also start chest-compression CPR, but really it is about that simple. These devices are designed to be used by lay persons. Everyone should become comfortable knowing that they can save a life with these simple AEDs if they witness a cardiac arrest.
The primary determinant of survival of a cardiac arrest is how long it takes to apply effective electrical defibrillation. CPR is helpful, but is really designed to buy time until defibrillation can be accomplished. The real solution is to get an effective heartbeat restarted. Many people have cardiac arrest with a “shockable rhythm” who are not within the limited few minutes available of trained EMT responders. Some of these persons can be saved by people like you if you just use an available AED. Don’t be intimidated. They are nearly fool-proof and you can use them confidently if you believe you can.
Here are some facts that may help encourage you to use an AED if you witness a cardiac arrest and an AED is available:
• There are about 360,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests annually in the US.
• Less than 10% of these sudden cardiac arrest victims survive.
• Communities with programs for CPR and AED training and availability have has up to nearly 40% survival rates.
• Nearly 64% of Americans have never even seen an AED. You don’t need to be part of this majority.
I encourage all readers to become confident that they can use an AED if the situation comes up. For those who feel the are near someone at very high risk you may consider purchasing an AED to have in the home. Ask your physician if this is reasonable. Here is a video on how to use an AED that I think can allow you to have the confidence to take action if needed. If you have additional concerns you can find a course on CPR/AED use at the American Heart Association Page.
f you have watched the 4 minute video you should feel confident that you now can save a life using an AED.