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Emergency Situations Where You Need to Use an AED

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Emergency Situations Where You Need to Use an AED

There are many ways to ‘prepare’. We prepare for dinner by purchasing the ingredients necessary the day before. We prepare for a flat tire by carrying around a spare in the trunk. And we prepare for health emergencies by bringing along a first aid kit and having up-to-date first aid training. We prepare all of the time without even really thinking about it.

Another important thing to prepare for are heart-related emergencies. You never know when you will need to use an AED! Heart related emergencies (such as heart attacks and cardiac arrests) happen to anyone, of any age, at any time. So where might you actually need to use an AED? Check out these different types of emergency situations and see where a defibrillator could help!


Emergency Situation – Drowning

Emergency Situation

As you are out boating at your family cabin, you notice something floating in the water just ahead. You and your family slow the boat down and cautiously approach. As you get closer you realize it is in fact a person floating face down in the water!


What to Do

  1. You and your family quickly pull the person on board the boat.Use an AED - Drowning
  2. A family member immediately calls 911 and explains the emergency. They also give the responder the location of where you will be docking.
  3. You check the person’s airway (looking for obstructions or blockages).
  4. Check for breathing.
  5. Check for a pulse.
  6. When you find no pulse and no breathing, you begin CPR right away, giving 30 compressions for every 2 breaths.
  7. Once you arrive at the dock, send someone to retrieve an AED (luckily you store an AED at your cabin for this exact scenario!).
  8. You continue CPR until the AED arrives and then you turn on the AED.
  9. Before attaching the AED pads, you remove any wet clothing from the person, and use a towel to dry them off and ensure they are not lying in a puddle of water.
  10. Then once the AED pads are attached, you follow the instructions to administer shocks and continue performing CPR until either help arrives or the person becomes conscious once more.


Why You Need to Use an AED

Because the person has experienced drowning, their lungs have been filled with water. With no oxygen getting in, their heart begins to slow and the brain begins to die because it is not receiving the oxygen it needs to stay alive. It is important that you use an AED as soon as possible to help get the patient’s heart beating in a normal rhythm. Once it is beating normally, oxygen will be once again delivered properly to the brain and the rest of the body when they start breathing (or you breathe for them)!


Emergency Situation – Heart Disease

Emergency Situation

As you are enjoying a warm latte at your favourite local coffee house, you hear someone shouting near you. Turning around you see a young girl with her father. The young girl is shouting for help while her father looks pained and clutches his chest. She exclaims her father has heart disease and is having a heart attack.


What to Do

  1. You go over to her and tell her you are first aid and CPR certified, and ask her to call 911 right away.Use an AED - Heart Disease
  2. You stand by her father, telling him to stay sitting and to try to keep breathing, making him as comfortable as possible.

** Suddenly the man makes strange breathing noises, his skin changes colour, and he falls unconscious **

  1. You help the man to the ground, and realize that his heart attack has most likely turned into a cardiac arrest.
  2. You turn to the nearest person and tell them to bring you an AED right away (thankfully there is an AED located in the café!) – you also tell the daughter to inform the 911 operator that he has had a cardiac arrest.
  3. You check the man’s pulse and breathing.
  4. When you find no pulse and no breathing, you begin CPR immediately.
  5. You continue doing compressions and breaths until someone brings you the AED.
  6. You then tear away the man’s shirt, shave his chest (there is a razor in the ‘fast response kit’ that should be attached to the AED) and stick on the AED pads, turn on the AED, and follow the instructions until further help can arrive.


Why You Need to Use an AED

It is not uncommon for a heart attack to turn into full cardiac arrest. Hence, if you ever feel like you are having a heart attack, always call 911 – even if it turns out not to be one! Better to be safe than sorry.

When in public places (such as a café, mall, gym, etc.), it is always good to be aware of the nearest AED. Ask staff, customer service centers, or consult your PulsePoint app to find the nearest defibrillator so you can retrieve it to help the person in need!


Emergency Situation – Fire

Emergency Situation

One evening you hear shouts outside your window and upon further investigation, find that a neighbour’s house down the street is on fire. You quickly head out to see if you can be of any assistance. You have been told that the fire department is on their way, but the neighbour had not yet evacuated the home. Finally, you see your neighbour emerge from the burning house, coughing severely. You get him to sit down and you stay by his side until help arrives, but suddenly he collapses and stops breathing.


What to Do

  1. You know emergency help is already on its way.Use an AED - Fire
  2. You instruct someone standing nearby to go and grab the AED in your home – you prepared for just this type of situation!
  3. Check your neighbour’s airway (looking for obstructions or blockages).
  4. If there is no pulse or breathing, it is likely he is having a cardiac arrest due to smoke inhalation.
  5. You begin CPR until the AED arrives.
  6. Once your neighbour returns with your AED, you attach the pads to their chest and follow the automated instructions to administer shocks.
  7. Continue to use an AED and perform CPR (as instructed) until emergency help can arrive.


Why You Need to Use an AED

It is possible for someone who has inhaled a lot of smoke to go into cardiac arrest. As seen in the television show, This is Us…

(Warning! Spoilers ahead!)

… Jack was exposed to fire smoke for an extended period of time (while he was heroically saving the puppy) – smoke that contains chemicals. The buildup of smoke and chemicals in his lungs was inevitably what caused Jack to suffer from a cardiac arrest and eventually caused his death. It is the same for this emergency situation.


How to Increase AED Awareness

Having an AED nearby will double the chances of survival. It is for this reason that it is so crucial that we are aware of the locations of these defibrillators. The more we know of these locations, the better we can prepare for retrieving one when an emergency situation occurs. Here are a few ways you can learn of nearby AED locations and how you can help to increase AED awareness!


  • #FindAnAED Campaign – As you go about your day-to-day routine, keep an eye out for AED locations. Once you find one, help spread the word by sharing a photo on social media! Participate in the #FindAnAED public safety awareness campaign by:
    1. Sharing a photo of an AED location on social media,
    2. Use the hashtag #AEDFound,
    3. Check in,
    4. Tag @FirstEditionAED,
    5. Post and share!
  • PulsePoint App – This amazing mobile app is working to get people the help they need in emergency situations. Using a notification and alert system, the PulsePoint app alerts nearby first aid-trained individuals nearby that their help is needed. It also can be used in an emergency situation to locate the nearest AED with the map feature.NOTE: Although not all PulsePoint app features are available in Calgary, you can still download the app and update AED locations to help others stay aware!
  • Calgary AED Locations Blog – Want to know where the nearest First Edition provided AED locations are in Calgary, Alberta? We have identified a few Philips AED locations and provided you a list so that you can be in-the-know of where defibrillators can be found!



Emergency situations can happen at any time, and it is important to stay prepared! Make your workplace, home, vehicle, or neighbourhood safe with the purchase of an AED. You never know when it might be needed!

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