What Does an AED do?
Automated External Defibrillators, or AEDs, can become a very important part of the CPR process, as defibrillation is a very important part of CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation).
CPR is the emergency response procedure utilized to immediately restore breathing when a person is undergoing cardiac arrest. Cardiac arrest occurs when the heart fails to pump properly resulting in a sudden loss of blood flow. During this time the victim’s heart and breathing might either be dangerously irregular or may have stopped altogether.
The CPR procedure combines chest compressions as well as artificial ventilation, such as breathing air into the victim’s airway (mouth-to-mouth resuscitation), to restore breathing and the heartbeat.
Defibrillation is only used in certain types of cardiac dysrhythmias, such as ventricular fibrillation or VF, and pulseless ventricular tachycardia, and not advised to be used when the heart has completely stopped beating. Defibrillation is also not to be used when the victim is conscious as an electrical shock given at an inappropriate time can actually cause dysrhythmias and VF.
Although the survival rate for cardiac arrests that occur outside of medical facility, such as a hospital, are often low, using an AED can greatly increase a victim’s odds for survival when experiencing cardiac arrest.
This is why first responders have them nearby, and more frequently you may find them at your local gym, the super market, doctors’ offices, office buildings, etc.