What is an AED? And what outcomes do they provide?

An AED is an Automated External Defibrillator. It is a device which is placed on a person who has had a cardiac arrest, in an attempt to save their life. Use of an AED within the first three minutes of a cardiac arrest has shown to improve lifesaving outcomes of patients from 10% up to 70%. The AED is used to deliver an electrical shock to the patient's heart in an attempt to "restart" normal, spontaneous electrical activity within the heart.

Who can use an AED?

Literally, almost anyone - even an 8 year old child - could use an AED. They are almost self-working, and have pictures showing how to use it - from placing the pads on the chest of the patient through to shocking them wiht the device. Even in an emergency situation, the instructions are clear and easy to understand. Most AED's (if not all) have voice prompts that talk you through the process of using the device so that it can have the best chance of being used successfully to save a life.

Can using an AED be harmful to the patient or the rescuer?

No. An AED will only deliver a shock to the patient if they require it. The rescuer is not at risk of being shocked if they follow instructions. It is our understanding that the rescuer is asked to stand clear of the patient so they do not take the effectiveness of the shock away from the patient.

Do you have to do training or be qualified to use an AED?

There is no training, certification or qualifications required to use an AED - they are able to be used for the first time by anyone in an emergency situation - so please, if you need to use it, do not be afraid to have a go at using it to save someone's life. They are simple to use, safe, and quite literally could mean the difference between life and death.

Are AED's successful in all cases of Sudden Cardiac Arrest?

Unfortunately, AED's are not successful in all cases of Sudden Cardiac Arrest - however, they DO have success in a lot of cases. The cases where AED's are not successful, are likely to be cases that involve an asystolic heart rhythm. When a patient has an asystolic heart rhythm, the AED will not shock the patient, and CPR should continue to be performed until paramedic advanced care arrives. Even if a patient is in a shockable rhythm (usually VF, or ventricular fibrillation), they can deteriorate into an unshockable, asystolic rhythm unless CPR and defibrillation occurs. To give the patient the best chance of survival, defibrillation needs to occur as quickly as possible - ideally within the first three minutes of going into cardiac arrest. That is why we are advocating for these live saving devices to be more prominent in the community, and to have more-easily idenitifable signage and promotion of the locations of these machines.

What do I need to consider when purchasing an AED?

AED's are an item that are not inexpensive, but at the same time, are not expensive for the benefit that is received from them. When purchasing an AED, you might like to consider the following things: - Warranty period. - Lifetime of batteries and pads - how often will you have to replace them? - Size and weight of the device. - What features does the device have, and what are your needs (eg. CPR coaching as opposed to CPR feedback, language settings for second-language users etc) - What support and training is offered by the retailer/distributor? - Does the distributor offer an after-sales monitoring or concierge service to ensure your device is maintained and working at all times?