June 1-7 is the American Red Cross’s CPR/AED Awareness week. An Automatic External Defibrillator (AED) is a device designed to monitor the heart behavior of someone in cardiac distress, and administer an electric shock to the heart in an effort to end abnormal heart rhythms. It does not replace the need for CPR, but rather improves the operating conditions of the heart so that CPR is more effective and recovery is more possible.
Author’s Note: This article generalizes CPR and AED first aid responses and is not intended to replace actual first aid training. First aid training and AED manufacturer recommendations overrides any information presented here.
According to the Red Cross, for every minute an AED is withheld from the victim, his chances of survival are reduced 10%. This means an AED should be an important tool in a company, school, workplace, and dojo first aid equipment.
The AED works by affixing two pads to the victim on either side of the heart (or chest and back for younger victims). The AED device then issues commands to the first aid responder, such as “Do not touch the victim”, “Stand back”, “Applying shock”, and “Continue CPR”, depending on the situation.
An AED consultant, Joel Thiebalt of That AED Guy .com, answered some questions on AED ownership.
Where does a person buy an AED device?
AED devices can be purchased from companies over the Internet. The disadvantage to this is that the buyer has little to no support in ownership. Alternately, buying from an AED sales and consultation business, purchasing considerations, setup, and orientation can be available. I ensure my customers understand their equipment as part of the purchasing procedure.
What are some preferred models of AEDs?
There have been many AED manufacturers. I try to do business with manufacturers who are large enough to design and maintain a reputable machine. These devices are regulated by the FDA, and unfortunately most manufacturers have had to deal with recalls initiated by the FDA. A manufacturer large enough to support these recall efforts and initiate design changes are preferable. A smaller company that might be forced out of business over a recall leaves its customers with no support and ongoing maintenance options.
What are some maintenance and ownership considerations?
AEDs all have a self-maintenance program that will cause the device to alarm if it detects something is wrong, such as a draining battery. Some places with curious individuals may get into the pack, open pads, or inspect the device, which may cause deficiencies, such as if they tear the pad packaging open to look at it. Routine inspection is suggested.
For ongoing maintenance, generally pad packages last 2 years then should be swapped out, while batteries should be swapped out after 4 years. These are general times only, and the actual manufacturer recommendations should be followed.
Where should a facility put their AED?
Somewhere accessible. While they are expensive, they need to remain in a cabinet or case that is unlocked. Trying to find a key during an emergency is not a good idea. Besides that, they should be in a highly visible area that is easily known and remembered. With the possibility that first aid givers may panic, the more memorable the location the better.
Contact: That AED Guy
Consultant: Joel Thiebaut
2292 Atlas Road
Davison, MI 49423
Telephone: (810) 919-5635
Fax: (810) 653-9408