Who Can Use an AED? Do You Have to be Trained? And Other Questions Answered!
Someone’s heart begins to beat sporadically. They fall to the ground, completely unconscious, not breathing. What should you do?!?
The first thing to do is call 911 and tell them someone has collapsed. The second thing to do is to tell someone nearby to find and bring back an AED – ask them if they understand. Lifesaving measures are your third step – Check airway, check breathing, check pulse. If they have no pulse, start CPR right away and continue until the arrival of the defibrillator. Perfect! The AED arrives, but who can use it? Is the teen nearby able to use it? What about the 6-year-old child standing behind his shocked parents? Or perhaps the grandfather who received first aid training 10 years ago. If you are wondering who is able to use an AED and whether you need to be trained to use one, we have your answer!
Who Can Use an AED?
Sometimes AED cabinets will say “for trained personnel” on them. However, the quick answer to ‘who can use an AED’ is actually… everyone! Yes, that means you, the teen, the child, the grandfather… and anyone else nearby, especially if nobody is trained. An AED is a safe device that is used to ‘kick’ a heart back into rhythm by administering shocks. A defibrillator’s pads can be easily applied to a patient in need and can be safely used by anyone!
Once you retrieve an AED, all you have to do is turn it on and follow the voice instructions. For most AED brands, there will also be illustrated instructions within the AED case, on the pads (showing you where to place them), and on the AED itself. The voice instructions will include how and where to apply the AED pads, how to administer a shock while making sure everyone is “clear of the patient”, and how to perform CPR afterward. The instructions are made simple and clear enough that even a child with no prior use of an AED can use it. Simply, turn it on, listen, and use the diagrams for guidance!
Are all AED’s the Same?
Most AEDs will follow a similar set-up and instruction guidance format, but with different AED brands there are slight differences. Some AEDs, like the Zoll AED, have a unique pad layout. The Zoll AED uses a single pad that is shaped like a ‘Z’ and is placed over the chest. Other AED differences may include longer charge up times, where the shock button is located, and some may guide you through the steps differently. Whatever AED you are using, though, there will always be assistance to help you through!
Want a bigger breakdown of these differences? We have a blog on the differences between each AED brand and which is the easiest to use that will answer your questions.
Do You Have to Be Trained to Use an AED?
ANYONE can use an AED, whether you are trained in first aid and CPR or have not booked a class for you and your friends/family/coworkers. You may never have taken a first aid course and it is still HIGHLY encouraged that you use a defibrillator in an emergency!
With this being said, it is always recommended that you get first aid training and become certified as soon as possible. With the assistance of a first aid course, you will learn the proper methods of CPR, understand how an AED works and when it should be used, as well as get hands-on practice using a dummy and an actual AED to help draw from should you ever need to step up and use your skills. This training will help you to better address an emergency, act quickly, and give you the confidence to save a life!
Ready to get trained? Grab your friends, family, or work team and register for Private First Aid Training Course with First Edition! With a minimum of 8 people, we will come to YOUR location and teach you everything you need to know to save a life!
What if I Mess Things Up?
In a study reviewed by StatNews.com, it was found that during cardiac arrest emergencies outside of hospital settings, only 39% of women were helped and 45% of men were helped. Why are these numbers so low? Because of the fear that many bystanders have of jumping in to help! (The number for women is lower because many are nervous about putting their hands near a woman’s chest. Check out the article for more information on why that should not be the case!)
You and Everyone Around You Are Safe
If the only thing holding you back from using an AED is the worry of messing things up, then fear not! No public AED will allow you to suddenly administer too many shocks, or let you shock a patient if it is not needed. Through the use of heart monitoring technology, the AED will be able to determine if the patient’s heart is beating in a sporadic rhythm (urging you to administer a shock), if the person’s heart is beating normally again and doesn’t need a shock (and instead telling you to monitor the patient until emergency help arrives), or if someone is touching the patient (that’s right, it will not shock if someone is touching the patient)!
Note: Never use an AED in water, as the shock could travel to anyone standing in the same puddle/pool of water undetected by the AED.
Another reason why you don’t have to worry is due to the Good Samaritan Act, enforced throughout most of Canada. The existence of this act means that that if you perform CPR, first aid, or use an AED to assist a person during an emergency, you are protected from liability. This means that if you break a rib (which sometimes happens in CPR!), or the person dies, you are not held responsible.
This act is found in:
- Alberta (often called the Good Samaritan Act or the Alberta Emergency Medical Aid Act)
- British Columbia
- Nova Scotia (called the Volunteer Services Act)
Don’t see your province listed? Reach out to your provincial government representatives or visit the provincial websites to find out more about how you can be protected!
Even though EVERYONE can use an AED even if they are not trained to use one, it is important to be confident in yourself and your skills (because more refined skills could be the difference in saving someone’s life)! If you ever come across an emergency situation, know that you will be guided through the process, and protected!