AED Quick Reference Guide

It's a common misconception that AED's "restart" the heart. The truth is that defibrillators shock the heart to reset it to its’ normal rhythm. Think of the shock button on an AED as the Ctrl+Alt+Del combination on your computer. If your computer is not working properly, you reboot it. The shock can potentially stop an irregular heart beat (arrhythmia) and allow a normal rhythm to resume following sudden cardiac arrest (SCA). SCA occurs when the heart malfunctions and stops beating unexpectedly. If not treated within minutes, it quickly leads to death. AED’s are so simple to use, so there’s no need to feel intimated. Here‘s all you need to know.

If the person is unresponsive and not breathing normally:

  • Turn on AED

  • Remove clothing or objects, make sure chest is dry and hair free

  • Place the pads as indicated on the diagrams

  • Follow the AED’s automated prompts

  • If prompted to give a shock, stand clear and press flashing shock button (make sure no-one it touching the person when the AED is analyzing or in shock mode)

That’s it!

According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, as many as 45,000 Canadians experience a SCA each year. Early access to cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and defibrillation (1 to 3 minutes after cardiac arrest) is vital. These actions may increase the chance of survival by 75% or more. The heart must be “defibrillated” quickly, because a victim’s chance of surviving drops by 7-10% for every minute a normal heartbeat isn’t restored.

TIP: AEDs can be found in many public places including: transit stations, airports, arenas, community centres, government buildings, schools and corporate office buildings. Ask someone to get one for you at the same time you ask someone to call 911.

DID YOU KNOW? Automated External Defibrillators are completely safe and they will not allow a shock if a normal heart beat is detected. Think of it like a pocket paramedic that walk you through every step of the process and should be used anytime a victim is UNRESPONSIVE and NOT BREATHING NORMALLY.

NOTE: A quick reference guide is not a replacement for first aid and CPR training – get trained today and get empowered.


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