Automated External Defibrillators (AED) play an important part in saving the lives of persons suffering sudden cardiac arrest.  Early defibrillation is one of the most crucial of all steps in restoring heart rhythm to normal.  Sudden cardiac arrest occurs when ventricular fibrillation begins, or when the heart stops beating altogether.  This may be caused by heart attack, electrocution, or asphyxiation.  More than 220,000 persons in the United States are victims of sudden cardiac arrest per year, with over 10,000 of the cases happening at work.

AED’s are medical devices designed to analyze heart rhythm and deliver electric shock to the victim.  The shock will restore normal heartbeat and possibly save their life during the time spent waiting on EMS personnel, or transfer to a hospital.  They are easy to use, compact, portable, lightweight, and safe.  It is now common for CPR certified training to include instruction on the use of AED’s.

AED’s are now found in workplaces, schools, ballparks, and many public facilities.  The key to success is having the proper training of their use and maintenance.  Professional medical emergency providers are accessible to train the company or community personnel that will be responsible for their upkeep and use.  The American Red Cross, Heart & Stroke Foundation of Canada, and American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine in North America are strong supporters of the use of AED’s.

Large companies may purchase the devices from a vendor that will oversee the training, upkeep, and medical oversight of the AED’s.  Available at various prices, they are well worth their cost when it comes to saving the life of someone who just might not make it to an emergency room.  According to an OSHA report, Public Access Defibrillators (PAD), communities with volunteers in first aid training and use of AED’s, had twice as many victims survive, compared to those with only CPR training.

Being a former hospital employee (administrative, not medical), I got to see a demonstration of an AED, and found it to be something I think even I could do, with sufficient training!

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