An AED is a device programmed to deliver an electric shock to the heart in order to restart its work, and return it to function. The most common use of AEDs is in emergency situations, such as sudden cardiac arrest.
Although AEDs have been a valuable medical device for many years, their use was limited to healthcare professionals. However, thanks to advances in technology as well as increase in public awareness, AEDs effectiveness and benefits are becoming more recognized by the general public.
Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) is one of the most common causes of emergency situations in the US. According to the American Heart Association over 350,000 cardiac arrests happen in the most unexpected places, such as at work, in public spaces, and at home. AEDs are highly beneficial in such cases because they give excellent results in seconds.
Why AEDs Are So Important
Automated external defibrillators are a highly sophisticated and easy-to-use tool that provides immediate help for those experiencing sudden cardiac arrest. It works in a way that analyzes the heart’s rhythm and delivers electric shocks when necessary to stabilize its work.
If used together with CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation), automated external defibrillators can lead to a positive outcome. CPR maintains blood flow and delivers oxygen to the lungs to prevent brain damage, and AED restores normal heartbeats, which allows the heart to return to its normal function.
The AED is a leader in providing first aid to people suffering from SCA. Hence, it is crucial to learn how to administer this kind of help in emergencies, considering that some states in America have enacted legal provisions for AEDs.
It is also important to tell the difference between a cardiac arrest and a heart attack because they are often confused by lay people. When someone is experiencing a heart attack they are breathing and responsive and do not need CPR or AED. In cases of cardiac arrest the person is unresponsive, not breathing normally and in need of a prompt CPR and AED treatment.
Key Benefits of Using AEDs
AEDs are a life-saving instrument that can be used by medical personnel and ordinary citizens if they are trained to use it properly. When lay people are trained to check vital signs and operate an AED, it raises the chances of restoring the normal heart beat and supplying blood to the brain, which significantly increases the survival rate of CPR patients.
The first and most important benefit of using an AED is that it works as a life-saver. Since SCA is the third leading cause of death in the US, the immediate use of this tool can improve patients’ chances of survival. Considering its sophistication and readiness to provide electro-shocks at any time, the establishment of effective heart rhythms is guaranteed.
Easy to Use
AEDs are very simple to use, with clear instructions and visual guidelines that help to be applied correctly. Also, users can install a mobile application that helps them locate the AED device within the premises. The AED system can also display the status of the device and send regular reports and notifications via the application.
The possibility of self-management and the provision of step-by-step instructions is what makes their use easier.
Provide Prompt Response
The ability to provide a quick response is another significant benefit of the AEDs. An emergency often requires immediate action, and this tool doubles the chances of survival if used at the beginning of the cardiac arrest.
If the person facing an SCA does not receive the necessary help, the likelihood of survival decreases by 10%. Precisely for these reasons, rapid intervention and reaction are the key steps to saving a human’s life.
Easy to Maintain
Despite the belief that they are complex and difficult to maintain, AEDs do not require many upgrades or complicated maintenance procedures. A safety officer should recharge the batteries and follow the expiry dates of the defibrillation gel so as to replace it in a timely manner.
As of recently, AEDs perform a self-checking scan and signal if any work is needed for them to be operational again. It is also desirable to service the devices every two years; the same term applies to the replacement of batteries and pads.
As for inspections, they are more frequent, because the authorities must ensure that the AEDs are in good condition.
Easy to Transfer
The easy transport from one place to another is what makes them ideal for use outside hospital conditions, such as in public spaces, airports, shopping centers, offices, and more.
When selecting an AED device, you need to take note of its size and weight, which are key features when it comes to carrying the device. It must be small and light to ensure easy transportation.
Minimizing the Chances for Hospital Treatment
Early action can prevent hospitalization. This is especially important given the enormous costs of treatments, and the possibility of reducing them through the use of AEDs. Also, by enabling the heart to continue to produce its rhythms, the chances of ending up in the hospital are significantly smaller, which is one of the biggest benefits of using AEDs in emergency situations.
Lessen the Risk of Brain Damage
In case of sudden cardiac arrest, the brain faces a lack of oxygen, which can damage it. The use of AED normalizes the work of the heart and minimizes the risk of this occurrence.
Reducing the chances of brain damage in people who have suffered from SCA is extremely important because the survival rate in the first year is higher in patients with a good neurological outcome.
By preventing long-term complications such as heart failure, the use of AEDs helps to improve patients’ quality of life and instill a greater appreciation of life in the long term.
People who have suffered a heart attack are happy and grateful to have survived and focus on activities that increase well-being, such as healthy food, physical activity, walks, and travel.
Increase in Survival Rates
The use of automated external defibrillators greatly increases the survival rate. Studies have shown that the first three to five minutes are critical for survival if an AED is used during this time. Early bystander CPR accompanied by a defibrillation shock applied immediately after the collapse increase the survival rate to 75%.
Call for Public Awareness
Considering the high survival rate of patients treated with an AED it is necessary to raise public awareness about its benefits. This also influences the decision to train more people in CPR, which is a crucial skill when it comes to saving people’s lives.
The largest number of cardiac arrests occur outside hospitals, that is, in homes 73.4%, public institutions 16.3%, as well as in nursing homes 10.3%. That is why it is especially important to have an AED placed in such areas, which will be visible and easily accessible.
Workplaces classify as one of the places where a sudden cardiac arrest occurs most often. Hence, employers must have a set of strategies implemented to deal with these emergencies and place AEDs in multiple locations and visible places.
Also, such devices should be installed in other places with a high frequency of people, such as libraries, shopping malls, promenades, and sports fields, as potential places where a person may suffer an SCA.
How to Incorporate AEDs in Companies
According to data from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), every year about 10,000 people suffer an SCA at their workplace; 60% of them have a great chance of survival in the first year with the use of automated external defibrillators that are placed near the workplace.
To successfully install defibrillators in workplaces, it is necessary to observe several steps:
- Identifying potential AED users
- Proper training in using the device, as well as following the instructions
- Easily accessible and accessible places within 3-5 minutes after emergency
- Regular Maintenance of defibrillators
To ensure that workers have easy access to AEDs, and take advantage of the benefits of using AEDs in emergency situations it is necessary to install them in places that are frequently used by employees, such as office floors, electrical rooms, sick bays, fitness centers, halls, cafeterias, and other rooms. Although AEDs are easy to operate, medical associations recommend that it is good to attend a training course to acquire skills and ability to handle the device.
If someone in your environment experiences SCA, you would need to help them and use an AED device. In such cases, a quick reaction and the knowledge of how to handle an AED are crucial. In combination with CPR, this device is essential in increasing the survival rate when an SCA happens.
Basic understanding and training of how this life-saving tool works can help you to save someone’s life when needed.