Wednesday, December 12, 2007

General Health Topic - Automated External Defibrillators

Hello Everyone,

Did you know there is a piece of equipment that is located in almost every airport, large sports stadium, shopping malls, government buildings, many private buildings that is there to save your life in case of sudden cardiac arrest (SCA)?

They are called AUTOMATED EXTERNAL DEFIBRILLATORS or AED's. The AED is a computerized medical device that is used on a patient that has collapsed due to cardiac arrest. An AED, when properly applied to a person's chest, can check the heart rhythm and it can recognize a rhythm that requires a shock.

Who is the rescuer? It may be you. AED's are designed to be used by non-medical personnel. An automated external defibrillator requires very little training to use. It automatically diagnoses the heart rhythm and determines if a shock is needed. Most AED's found in public locations are semi-automatic models which will tell the user that a shock is needed, but the user must tell the machine to do so, usually by pressing a button. This will give the rescuer the chance to sound the "ALL CLEAR" command. In most circumstances, the user cannot override a "no shock" advisory by an AED. When advising the rescuer that a shock is needed, the AED uses voice prompts, lights and text messages to tell the rescuer the steps to take.

In most classes that teach Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR), there is now a component that teaches how to use an AED.

Here is what the Red Cross says about AED's at

"In the time it takes you to read this information, sudden cardiac arrest will have claimed another victim. Statistics show that more than 200,000 Americans die of sudden cardiac arrest every year. Up to 50,000 of these deaths could have been prevented if someone had initiated the Cardiac Chain of Survival, and an automated external defibrillator (AED) had been available for immediate use at the time of the emergency."

What is the cardiac chain of survival?

The cardiac chain of survival is a series of four critical steps. All four steps must be present to help ensure survival from sudden cardiac arrest. The four steps are:

Step one: Early access to care (calling 9-1-1 or another emergency number)
Step two: Early cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)
Step three: Early defibrillation
Step four: Early advanced cardiac life support, as needed

The third step, delivering an electrical shock to the heart, which is known as defibrillation, is recognized as the most critical step in restoring cardiac rhythm and resuscitating a victim of SCA.

If you would like to read an account of how an AED and quick acting co-workers saved a life, please check out this link:

What does this all mean to you?

I would like for you to be aware that these machines exist. They are all around. Next time you are in an airport or a shopping mall, look around. You have probably never noticed them before. If you or a family member are at risk of Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) you should really note where the AED's are located.

If you work in a large building, find out from the building management where the AED's are located. If they do not have them, find out when they are going to get them. If you would like to start an AED program, please contact me for information.

One type of location that I think should have several AED's located strategically around the facilty is RV Parks. Many of the residents at RV parks are older and may be at higher risk of SCA. Any RV Park Residents out there that would like more information, please email me.

If you would like information on purchasing an AED, here is one of many links:

Hopefully, you or your loved ones will never need to use an AED. However, knowing about them and how to use one can save a life.


Dr. Paul

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