Fetch the AED

Where’s the AED (Automated External Defibrillator)

When someone has a cardiac arrest and isn’t breathing, you should start CPR immediately, then send someone to fetch the AED.AED unit

Not all AEDs have locked cabinets, so you may be able to just pull open the door.

Some of the locked units have quite a lot of writing on them and you could be in panic mode, so may not see, “Call 999 for the access code”

Once you’ve dialed 999/112, you’ll be able to open the door. If you’re not by the cabinet, they’ll tell you if there’s a unit within a few minutes of where you are.

Take the AED out of the cabinet.

Defibrillator ON switch
Switch ON
Defibrillator PULL bar
PULL to activate

Once you’re back with the casualty, open the unit, unzip, pull the lever, switch it on if necessary.

Follow the voice instructions and do whatever they say.

Remove Clothing

Remove all clothing from the casualty’s chest, cutting it off if necessary.

Most AED packs include a set of heavy-duty shears, these will easily cut through cloth and underwired bras.

If there are bystanders, get them to hold up a blanket, rug or towel to preserve the casualty’s dignity.

Once you’ve removed the clothes, wipe dry the skin.

Look at the pads to see where they need to go, if the casualty has a lot of chest hair, be prepared to shave it.

There’s a razor in the pack, use it to clear the areas where the pads are to go.

Remove the pads from the backing and place them as shown in the diagram on the reverse side.Defib Pad placement

Don’t worry if you get them mixed up, they’ll work just as well in either position.

Before placing the pads, make sure they’re not touching any metal or jewellery, including piercings.

Remove all patches and plasters and avoid placing the pads over existing internal pacemakers or defibrillators. (If there’s an internal defibrillator beneath the skin, it has failed, so continue with pad placement adjacent to it)

Attach the Pads

Once the pads are attached, the AED should now be giving you further instructions.

If you’ve already been performing CPR it will tell you to stop and not touch the casualty, while it analyses their heartbeat.

Following a cardiac arrest, the heart won’t be beating normally, it will be quivering or fibrillating.

The AED will detect this, but if someone is touching them it will detect their pulse and stop the defibrillator from shocking.

When the AED has stopped analysing, having failed to find a heartbeat, it will tell you the patient needs a shock.

Deliver a shock

Some AEDs deliver this automatically, but others require the person using it to press a button to deliver the shock.Defib SHOCK button

When you’re told the shock’s been given, if the heart hasn’t restarted, you’ll be instructed to begin CPR again.

The unit will give you the option to follow instructions for this and give you a rhythm to follow for the correct rate of compressions.

You should follow the audible instructions from the unit, administering CPR and shocks as directed.

Always continue this until medical professionals tell you to stop, the casualty comes round and makes definite signs of life, or you’re just too exhausted to carry on and there’s nobody to take over from you.

If the casualty comes around, never remove the pads, they could easily have another arrest. Because they’re single use they can’t be reattached.

Myths about defibrillators.

  1. They start the heart – defibrillators stop the heart from quivering or fibrillating. This allows the heart to naturally “reboot” into a normal rhythm.
  2. The casualty can be harmed by an AED – The person is clinically dead, you can only help them
  3. You can be shocked by an AED – You can only shock someone if there is no heartbeat, this why it’s important not to touch them when the device is analysing.



Practice makes perfect

The Generation Game

You may not remember the days of the “Generation Game” on television, when Bruce Forsyth would bring on an expert with an unusual skill.

The contestants would watch a demonstration of the person’s talent, not always terribly complex.potters wheel

It could be throwing a clay pot on a potter’s wheel, filling sausages, or learning a few dance steps.

Whatever the task they’d be asked to replicate it, after seeing it done once.

The fun then commenced, with the additional pressure of doing it in front of an audience.

Adrenaline rushes and panic sets in, laughter from the audience results in few of the contestants carrying out the task successfully.

If you compare this to learning basic life-saving skills, watching it done, is not enough.

Show a group something and ask them if they can repeat it? The majority will confidently say yes.

Testing beliefs

Stress test it, by getting them to actually do it, and more often than not, the answer is a definite no.

As a trainer I’ve noticed you can show learners things, but there really is no substitute for doing it.

For instance, putting someone in the recovery position, they invariably forget some of the steps.

However, given the opportunity to practice it, they become more confident and soon competent.

Learning from a screen

Increasingly we use video as a teaching resource and it has its place as a teaching aid.

But it cannot provide the feel of how hard and deep you must push on the chest to achieve effective CPR compression.

Feeling the difference between using two hands to achieve compression on an adult compared to just two fingers on an infant.Resuscitation Anne

Being able to watch the chest rise when you give rescue breaths, gives a great indication that you’d do it right in a real emergency.

If you’re in a restaurant and someone chokes, knowing where and how hard to slap them on the back and the sort of force it takes to give an abdominal thrust.

You must remember, like the generation game, your adrenaline will kick in. Not because you’re being watched by millions of people, wanting you to make a fool of yourself.

Because you will be dealing with a real life and death emergency.

Practice, practice, practice

Practice is the answer and the more often the better.

Although your certificate last 3 years, we recommend refreshing your skills at least once a year.

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