Top 5 Shocking AED Myths Answered!
When it comes to knowing how, what, and when to use an Automatic External Defibrillator (AED), many people are aware only of the basics: An AED is used in an emergency. An AED uses shocks to help someone suffering from a cardiac arrest. An AED can save a life. But what many do not realize is that there are a number of myths that are confusing our understanding of these life-saving devices! Do you know the right answers? Or are these ‘shocking’ AED myths ones that you have believed too? Take a look and learn the REAL answers so that you can be more prepared should an emergency occur!
AED Myth #1 – ‘Only Those with Training Should Use an AED’
What is so amazing about AED’s is that they are made in a way that ANYONE can use them! Whether you have been trained to use an AED (this is taught in a first aid class and helps increase your confidence and use of the device), or not, you can use a defibrillator.
The Philips AED, for example, uses voice commands as well as visually descriptive images and diagrams on all components to help guide you in the process of using an AED. These automated instructions use heart monitoring technology through the SMART AED pads (which are placed and stuck on the patient) and will tell you when a shock needs to be administered, when CPR should be continued, when to stand back, when it is safe to touch the patient, and more. The Philips AED is so easy that even a child can use it! All that is required is the ability to carry the AED to the person in need, apply the pads, and push the shock button!
AED Myth #2 – ‘An AED Isn’t Needed as Long as Someone Knows CPR’
CPR is one of the most amazing skills to have in a cardiac emergency – it has an enormous impact on the survival rate of an individual suffering from cardiac arrest. That said, CPR may not be enough to save a life and an AED should always be retrieved. Of course, if an AED is not nearby, or while an AED is on the way, CPR should be started immediately until one arrives. Once the AED arrives, use it immediately! Having an AED to use on a patient will DOUBLE their chances of survival. While CPR keeps the heart ‘pumping’ (manually), an AED uses an electrical current (shock) to ‘kickstart’ the heart back into a normal rhythm. It is for this reason that an AED should ALWAYS be brought if available to someone in need!
AED Myth #3 – ‘An AED Can Restart a Stopped Heart’
Have you ever seen a doctor’s show where the patient flatlines, and despite it making the continuous beep, the doctor continues with the defibrillator? Then, miraculously, the heartbeat begins again and the patient is revived. This is a common scene in Hollywood and has created the belief that if a person’s heart stops, it can be restarted with an AED. Unfortunately, this is one of the most common AED myths. An AED is only used in cases of cardiac arrest in which the heart is beating irregularly (the heart is in ‘fibrillation’ – also called arrhythmia) and the shock from the defibrillator kicks the heart out of fibrillation (de-fibrillate). This shock can only work when the heart is still in fibrillation (picture it quivering quickly), but once it flatlines the AED will not restart it.
AED Myth #4 – ‘An AED is Needed for a Heart Attack’
Contrary to popular belief, a heart attack and a cardiac arrest are very different things (yes, even television shows get it wrong sometimes!). But only one of these heart emergencies requires the use of an AED.
A heart attack occurs when an individuals’ blood flow is blocked and the heart is no longer receiving oxygen. Those experiencing a heart attack are commonly conscious, are aware of their symptoms (such as shortness of breath, sweating, nausea, dizziness, and chest discomfort or pain) and are able to call for help. Where the confusion comes from is that a heart attack can quickly turn into cardiac arrest. This happens when the heart stops pumping regularly and begins to ‘fibrillate’ (beating irregularly) preventing it from pumping blood and oxygen to the rest of the body. This is when the person will fall unconscious. It is ONLY then that an AED can be used. Not before that (The AED will not shock a heart that is not in fibrillation)!
PRO TIP: If someone is showing signs of a heart attack, call 911 immediately, and then retrieve (or send someone to retrieve) an AED. Although they will not need the AED during the heart attack, having the defibrillator nearby will act as a precaution should the heart attack transform quickly into a cardiac arrest.
AED Myth #5 – ‘Paramedics Will Bring an AED, I Don’t Need to Have One’
If 911 has been called for a cardiac emergency, they will arrive as fast as they can with professionally trained individuals and a defibrillator that can help. BUT… did you know that EVERY MINUTE that a patient does not receive the attention of an AED, their survival rate drops by 7-10%. That means if it takes the ambulance 9 minutes to arrive, that person’s survival rates have dropped 63-90%. Whereas, if you reacted and began using the AED that was installed in your home/office/worksite/vehicle within 1-2 minutes of the cardiac arrest, their survival rate would have dropped only 7-20%. That is a big difference!
This is one of the many AED myths you don’t want to believe! The installation and purchase of an AED is strongly recommended for any public location, workplace, building, home, neighbourhood, and any other area that is frequented by multiple people. Having an AED nearby could be just the thing to save someone’s life!
PRO TIP: Does someone in your household or workplace have heart disease? Having an AED in your location can improve their rates of survival should cardiac arrest occur, as these individuals have a higher risk of a heart emergency. Check out our InHome and OnSite AEDs and get one installed in your location!
When it comes to using and understanding AEDs, it is important to be informed and aware of how these devices work and when to use them! Share these AED myths with your friends and family so we can create a more informed society ready to jump into action!
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Looking to install an AED in your location? Not sure which one is the best? Here is everything you need to know about the different brands of AEDS, how they function, and which is the best!