The Power in Your Hands
An Automatic External Defibrillator or AED is an intricate device made simpler for people to use on those who may be experiencing a sudden cardiac arrest. A bystander can use one because it has step-by-step instructions on how to use the machine.
But one should not use an AED right away. The person administering it should check the pulse and breathing of the person. Calling for emergency personnel like 9-1-1 is the safest choice if both the pulse and breathing of the person is irregular or absent.
The golden rule: do not panic
If there are no available AEDs, Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation is a must. Maybe the victim is just unconscious so it’s best to play safe until you are sure of what really happened. If the victim does not wake up to CPR, wait for 9-1-1 and prepare to use the AED.
AED use is simple because there are instructions on the machine. There is usually a voice prompt that guides you on what to do. The brand does not matter because there are already instructions. But if the one who would apply the AED has a preferred brand, it would be better because the person already has some background information on what to do and setting up the machine.
Just like normal defibrillators found in hospitals, an AED uses a pack of electrodes to “jumpstart” the heart of the victim. The person’s chest has to be revealed and each pad of the AED placed properly: one above the right nipple and the other on the left of the ribcage, just shy below the left nipple.
The machine would correct you if there is a mistake and tell you to repeat the setup again. Common mistakes would be not connecting the two electrodes properly and using the machine when someone has medical devices in them like a pacemaker or cardioverter defibrillator.
Although a no-brainer, you should remove metallic objects from the person’s body. They can and will conduct electricity if worn while being defibrillated. Burns can result from it and it would be a painful thing to bear, especially for the one being revived.
Once everything is set to go, advise those around you to get back and not be in contact with the victim. Electrical charge can travel from person-to-person and it can be very high. You might even tend to two individuals should the charge bounce.
An AED has two interesting buttons: Analyze and Shock. Both are self-explanatory and really helpful in making the machine more uncomplicated than normal defibrillators carried by medical personnel.
What one can do is alternating CPR with AED use. When AED does not work, perform CPR, and vice versa. The power is literally in your hands and on the victim so don’t rush it: just be careful of the things you would do and think things over four times.
And if you fail, call 9-1-1 for help. At least you did your job to help another person see the light of the day.