How Automated External Defibrillators (AED) are used

As the name suggests, AEDs are applied externally, i.e. on the patient?s skin on the chest area. The initial diagnosis process occurs by placing pads on the patient upon switching the AED unit on. Typically, AEDs have an informative display giving the relevant information to work with.

The AED receives information regarding the patient?s heartbeat through the pads, and immediately analyses this to establish whether a shock is necessary. If this is the case, the AED automatically begins to charge the capacitor within itself in order to then deliver the shock. The speed with which this process is automatically carried out means that the time period between initially applying the machine, diagnosing and then treating the condition is extremely fast, again maximising on the outcome for the patient.

The shock from the AED is typically administered by someone pressing a button on the device. This is because other people present must not touch the patient when the shock is delivered. When the AED has established that a shock is necessary, it issues instructions to this effect. Once the shock has been delivered, the AED again analyses the patient?s heartbeat and issues advice as to how to proceed from there. With some machines, the instructions are issued through an electronically generated voice, which makes using the AED straightforward and prompt.

There are many different types and manufacturer of AED, and the resulting models vary in a number of ways. In many cases, the device also has the ability to record the details of what happened during the diagnosis and treatment process, which can be accessed later and the information used.