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What Are AEDs?

An Automated External Defibrillator (AED) is a device that attaches to the victims chest and looks at the persons heart rhythm. It then has the ability to determine if the heart needs to be shocked, and if so, delivers that shock to correct the rhythm. An adult that has collapsed from sudden cardiac arrest (cessation of a heartbeat) is most likely in need of the defibrillatory shock that can be delivered by an AED.

AEDs are the public accessible version of the defibrillation paddles used in hospital emergency rooms and ambulances. The AEDs have the ability to analyze the heart rhythms on its own, and determine if an electrical shock would be appropriate. It then charges itself and delivers the shock. This automatic feature is what allows the general public to perform this skill.

Currently, the American Heart Association estimates that at least 250,000 lives are lost to sudden cardiac arrest every year, and currently, only 5-10% of these victims survive. We also know that CPR alone is not enough. Doctors have known for years that rapid defibrillation (within 3-5 minutes) was key to improving survival rates from sudden cardiac death. Only recently has computer technology allowed a machine to determine the EKG, thereby removing the need to have a person trained in EKGs being the only one able to deliver this life saving technique. It is estimated that 40,000 lives could be saved annually if more communities deployed AEDs.

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