Automated External Defibrillator (AED)

The following information was taken from The American Red Cross,"Workplace Training, Standard First Aid Instructor's Manual," Stay Well, Boston MA, 1999, and is intended for information purposes only. This information should not be used in place of a certified AED training course. Do not attempt to use an AED without taking the appropriate training course.


Frequently-Asked Questions

What is an AED and what does it do?
AED stands for Automated External Defibrillator. An AED analyzes the heart's rhythm and tells a first aid provider to deliver a shock to a victim of sudden cardiac arrest. This shock, called defibrillation and may help the heart reestablish an effective rhythm. Studies have shown that early defibrillation increases a victim of sudden cardic arrest chances for survival. Each minute that defibrillation is delayed reduces the chance of survival by about 10%.

Do AEDs need regular maintenance?
Yes, all AEDs need to be maintained on a regular basis. Maintenance includes checking and changing batteries and electrode cables and pads. Always follow the manufacturer's instructions for maintenance of the AED at your worksite.

Do I need to know how to do Cardiopulmonary Recuscitation (CPR) in order to use an AED?
No, although it is recommended. Sometimes an AED will tell you not to shock a victim. At that time, check the victim's pulse. If the victim has no pulse, proceed with CPR if you are trained. In all events, emergency services should have been contacted before even beginning use of the AED..

If the location of the pads on the chest is reversed, will the AED still work?
Yes, if the placement of the pads on the chest is reversed, the AED will still work.

Should the pads be removed when the AED prompts "No shock advised, continue CPR"?
No, the pads should not be removed. It is possible that the AED will tell you that additional shocks are needed.

Are there any special considerations when placing electrode pads on a female victim?
If the victim is wearing a bra, remove it before placing the electrode pads. Place one electrode pad on the victim's upper right chest and one on the lower left side under the victim's left breast.

Can AEDs be used safely in the rain and snow?
Yes, it is safe to use AEDs in all weather conditions. However, if at all possible, move to shelter and keep the victim protected from inclement weather. If the victim is lying in water, move him or her to a relatively dry area before using the AED. In wet weather, be sure to wipe the victim's chest dry before placing the electrode pads.


AED Precautions

  • Do Not touch the victim while defibrillating. You or someone else could get shocked.
  • Do Not use alcohol to wipe the victim's chest dry. Alcohol is flammable.
  • Do Not use an AED in a moving vehicle. Movement may affect the analysis.
  • Do Not use an AED on a victim who is in contact with water. Move victims away from puddles of water or swimming pools or out of the rain before defibrillating. (See above answer to the question "Can AEDs be used safely in the rain and snow?")
  • Do Not use an AED on a victim lying on a conductive surface. Conductive surfaces, such as sheet metal or metal bleachers, may transfer the shock to others.
  • Do Not use an AED on a child under age 8 or under 90 pounds. AEDs do not have the capability to adjust to the low-energy settings needed for infants and children. Local protocols may differ on this and should be followed.
  • Do Not use an AED on a victim who has a nitroglycerine or other patch. Remove any patches from the chest before attaching the device.
  • Do Not touch the vicitm while the AED is analyzing. Touching or moving the victim may affect the analysis.
  • Do Not defibrillate someone around flammable materials, such as gasoline or freeflowing oxygen.
  • Do Not use a cellular phone or radio within 6 feet of the AED. This may interrupt analysis.