You may or may not have noticed these strange devices mounted on public walls. Today guest blogger, Sara, will reveal to us what these wall units called AED are and what they’re used for. Keep reading and you may be able to save a life in the future!
In exercise facilities, entertainment venues, and public places of all sorts, complex medical devices are standing by to save lives. AED wall cabinets dot the corridors and first-aid rooms in these locations, and some people mistakenly view them as a sign that cardiovascular illness is running rampant.
While it’s true that many people need to lose weight and get in shape, because of the significant incidence of congenital heart conditions, there will always be sudden cardiac arrests. So while we should all be working hard to reduce the lifestyle-induced cardiovascular problems that are stopping too many hearts, let’s also be prepared to help those whose unfortunate genetic composition is their only risk factor.
When those sudden events occur, the initial response is–and should be–cardiopulmonary resuscitation, or CPR. This technique keeps blood and oxygen moving to the brain and other vital organs, reducing the risk of permanent damage or death.
Only very rarely will CPR restart the heart the way TV dramas suggest it does. Instead, it is only a bridge to advanced treatment, and the first step in that advanced treatment is the AED.
The automated external defibrillator (AED) is an unassuming plastic piece of machinery containing complex electronic and computer circuits that can duplicate the judgment of an experienced physician. Used in concert with CPR, it can save lives.
To understand what it does, let’s examine the name. First, it’s automated. That means that the computer inside the unit analyzes the patient’s heart rhythm. When a heart stops, it is still experiencing electrical activity, but it isn’t making any kind of organized movements that will sustain life. It’s more like the static between radio stations than the good reception on them. Once a human operator places the AED’s adhesive pads on the patient’s chest, it can analyze that “static” and determine if an electrical shock will bring it into a normal rhythm. If so, a recorded voice instructs the operator to ensure that the victim isn’t touching anyone else, and then to press a button to deliver the shock.
Hence the automation. In the hospital or in the back of an ambulance, the patient is connected to a monitor to reveal the heart’s electrical actions. The doctor or paramedic must then conduct the analysis and determine if a shock will help.
This is the most complex part of the equation, and the technology that makes it possible is the only reason an AED could have ever been developed.
The next word, “external”, simply indicates that the shocks are delivered from outside the body, as opposed to directly on the heart muscle as during open-heart surgery. And “defibrillator” is a term that means the device is used to correct that electrical “static” in the heart.
So the device is a self-managing, nonsurgical tool for correcting certain potentially deadly heart rhythms.
From your perspective, as the potential user, you need to know only that an AED is to be used by trained people only. Disappointed? Then enroll in a class. It’s simple, hands-on training, and in many cases it’s free of charge. It is often coupled with CPR classes to make you a fully functional civilian rescuer.
In an ideal world, heart disease would be stamped out. But even with that success, there will still be people whose hearts shut down and require immediate intervention. If you’ve been trained and equipped to make that intervention, you can save a life.
About the Author
Sara is a freelance writer who most often writes about business and health. In her spare time, she enjoys maintaining a healthy lifestyle through swimming and practicing yoga.
Have you been trained to use these AED devices? What are your thoughts on how useful they are and if every country should use them?