One of the most important advances in emergency response is the development of the automatic defibrillator. This is a device that helps to electronically stimulate the heart to beat if someone is having a heart attack.
In the past, first responders had to rely on CPR to keep the blood pumping through the body until help arrived, but now a trained person can actually begin a procedure to start the heart.
Automatic external defibrillators (AED) are very user friendly. They come with two self-stick pads that are attacked the chest in specific areas. Then you press a button on the machine to begin the process.
The machine analyzes the heartbeat and tells the responder what to do. For example, if there’s no shockable heart rhythm, the machine will tell you to continue to administer CPR.
The machine will also intermittently check the heart rate by telling you to stop CPR and wait. If it finds a shockable rhythm, it will tell you to clear everyone away from the person and press the button to administer the electricity. It will then measure the heartbeat and give you instructions for what to do next.
Defibrillators can be found in many workplaces and on airplanes. They allow someone to get quick medical treatment while waiting for an ambulance to arrive. AEDs have been shown to increase chances of survival from a heart attack by 50-74%. It’s also possible to purchase one for your home, though they cost over a thousand dollars at this time.
One thing that’s critical is that you receive the proper training to use the AED. Along with using the AED, you may need to perform CPR. If CPR is performed incorrectly, it can lead to injury.
You can receive training in both AED and CPR at your local American Heart Association or American Red Cross. This training is relatively inexpensive and is lifesaving. You may also want to talk to someone in your workplace about investing in an AED for the office as well as training the entire staff to use it.
Before the AED came into existence, people could only perform CPR. CPR isn’t designed to restart the heart; it only helps to keep oxygen moving throughout the tissues of the body until medical help arrives.
The AED allows people to begin the process of trying to restart the heart. This increases not only chances of survival, but it also minimizes the risk of damage to the body from oxygen deprivation.