Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs)

An Automated External Defibrillator, or AED is used to help those experiencing sudden cardiac arrest. This easy-to-use machine brings the benefits of a defibrillator to the public which increases the chances of survival of a cardiac arrest casualty tremendously.

During a cardiac arrest in a hospital, healthcare professionals (such as doctors, nurses and paramedics) would need to interpret the heart rhythm of a patient and then deliver a shock. This level of medical knowledge is not expected of the public, which is why this machine exists. An AED can analyse the rhythm of a casualty and deliver a shock, if necessary, to help the heart return to an effective rhythm.

As part of the “shout for help” part of the DRS ABC approach to assess a collapsed casualty, you may ask the helper to find and comeback with an AED. Ask the helper to switch it on and to take the pads out, while you continue CPR. The helper can also remove or cut through clothing to get to the casualty’s bare chest. If the chest is wet (either water or sweat) the helper should wipe the chest dry, so that the defibrillator pads can stick on better. The AED will give you voice prompts on what to do, step-by-step.

  1. Apply the pads on the person’s chest. there are pictures of the positions on the pads themselves
    • The first pad should be on the upper right side below the collar bone.
    • The second pad should be on the casualty’s left side below the arm pit.
  2. The AED will analyse the heart’s rhythm. Stop CPR and make sure no one is touching the casualty, as this can affect the result of the analysis which will ultimately make the AED ineffective. The AED will then give a series of visual and verbal prompts that should be followed.
    • If the AED tells you that shock is needed, you must ensure that people are standing back and away from the casualty, as there might be risk of them getting shocking if they are touching the casualty. The AED will tell you when to press the shock button.
    • After the shock has been given the AED will tell you to continue CPR for two minutes before it re-analyses the rhythm.
    • If the defibrillator tells you that no shock is needed continue CPR for two minutes before the defibrillator re-analyses.