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Information about defibrillators

What is an automated external defibrillator (AED)?

An AED is an emergency life-saving device that can be used by anyone to help restart the heart when a sudden cardiac arrest strikes. The device is fully portable and gives the heart an electrical charge to establish a regular heartbeat. The AED will only shock when necessary.
Early defibrillation is the key to surviving a sudden cardiac arrest
• Survival rates drop 7 - 10 percent every minute without defibrillation .
• CPR is a temporary measure that maintains blood flow and oxygen to the brain. It will not return the heart to a normal rhythm. Only defibrillation can return a heart to a normal rhythm.
• Quick action by the first person on the scene can truly make a difference in saving a life.
• Automated external defibrillators (AEDs) make early defibrillation readily available and are easy to use, with minimal training.

1. When turned on, the AED will instruct the user to connect the pads to the person’s bare chest. All clothing should be removed, including undergarments (especially underwired bras) because these can interfere with the electrical signal. The pads allow the AED to analyse their heart and determine if they require a shock.
2. If the device determines a shock is required, it will charge up in preparation to deliver a shock. The AED is completely safe as it will only deliver a charge when it determines a shockable rhythm is present.
3. When charged, the device instructs the user to ensure no one is touching the victim and then to press a button to deliver the shock. In the case of a fully automatic AED the unit will advise the user that it will deliver the shock without further intervention.
4. When the shock is delivered, the device will instruct the user to begin CPR for a period, after which it will analyse the heart rhythm once again, advising whether a further shock to continue CPR is needed. Anyone can use an AED, no training is needed.

Acknowledgements and further information
Beating Hearts Merrow would like to thank the Heart Rhythm Alliance for all their support and information, which helped us set up BHM so quickly:

For guidelines and information about Life Support, visit the Resuscitation Council:

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