Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs)

Defibrillation is the procedure you often see on television when the actors pull out the electric paddles and "shock" the patient's heart.

In the past, the machinery for administering defibrillation was located only in hospitals and other health care agencies. However, in the past 10 years there has been considerable attention given to placing portable defibrillation devices in public places. For example, if a person suffers cardiac arrest in an airport or in an office building, the portable defibrillation devices can be used on the spot to restart the patient's heart.

The statistics are promising good results. About 95 percent of those suffering cardiac arrest, who do not receive defibrillation die before reaching the hospital. By comparison, the survival rate from sudden cardiac arrest is as high as 49 percent for people living and working in locations where defibrillation can be administered within 5 to 7 minutes.

The automated external defibrillator (AED) is a user-friendly device that contains an electrocardiogram to monitor the heart beat, directions for use, and an audio system that voices step-by-step coaching for the operator based on findings from the electrocardiogram. CPR training often includes an introduction to the correct use of an AED, but studies have shown that first-time users have had success. The important thing to remember is that a life is at stake and your effort to help, starting with a call to 9-1-1, can make the critical difference between life and death.   

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