Table of Contents
- An AED will shock someone by accident
- AED’s are difficult to operate and should only be used by professionals
- Fully Automatic AED’s are dangerous
- When you shock someone with an AED, their arms and legs flail and they jump off the surface
- 5. My organization doesn’t have to own an AED, we just call Emergency Medical Services (EMS)
1. An AED will shock someone by accident
AED’s will only allow a shock if certain heart rhythms are present. These rhythms are lethal and if uncorrected will not allow a return to a normal heartbeat.
AED’s have sophisticated algorithms that will only shock a patient who needs one; if the heart is beating normally the AED will not allow a shock. The electricity is now delivered utilizing adherent electrodes which deliver the energy directly to the chest. There are no paddles that can leak electricity to surrounding areas, greatly reducing the chance of an accidental shock. If someone is touching the patient, the artifact that is created will alert the AED and it will not shock until there is no movement.
There are numerous warnings given by the machine and the operator will also look to see that no one is touching the patient. Even if you try to press the shock button, or someone accidentally pushed the shock button, you will not deliver that patient a shock.
2. AED’s are difficult to operate and should only be used by professionals
Public Access Defibrillation is placing AED’s into the hands of the public to help someone in cardiac arrest. This includes training lay responders in its use, as well as maintaining the devices to ensure proper function. These machines are designed to be used by the general public, so bystanders with minimal training can grab the unit, and respond in a timely and effective manner, hopefully resulting in a cardiac arrest save.
AED’s or automated external defibrillators are actually simple and easy to use. All AED’s utilize very specific voice prompts that can easily allow anyone to operate the AED. Pay attention to the voice prompts; it helps to repeat them out loud, making all responders aware of what is happening.
3. Fully Automatic AED’s are dangerous
Fully automatic AEDs are units that do not require a responder to press a shock button, which may reduce any hesitation or delay in delivering a shock, or providing CPR after that shock is delivered.
The FDA, who is responsible for promoting and protecting public health, continues to approve fully automatic devices for sale to the public, which would not be the case if they were dangerous. In addition, going back to our first misconception, the AED will not shock someone who does not need it.
4. When you shock someone with an AED, their arms and legs flail and they jump off the surface
Many people believe that when a shock is delivered by an AED, the patient’s body jerks violently like on TV. That is not the case.
When someone is shocked by an AED you may see a very slight shoulder shrug or movement, but their arms and legs will not shoot up like in the movies. This is very important, as lay rescuers sometimes delay giving a shock to someone because of their perception of what they saw on TV. This delay will diminish the patient’s chance of survival.
There is anecdotal evidence that if someone does not survive after receiving a shock, the lay rescuer has a feeling of remorse because they applied the shock. The rescuer must remember that if the AED tells them to apply a shock, which is the only way this patient can possibly survive, the shock cannot hurt the patient, it can only help them! This is also the topic of one of our CPR, AED, and First Aid MythBusters episodes. Watch it Here!
5. My organization doesn’t have to own an AED, we just call Emergency Medical Services (EMS)
Waiting for paramedics is not enough when you have a person suffering from cardiac arrest. The average EMS response time in the United States is 6 to 12 minutes; brain damage starts to occur within 4 to 6 minutes. For every minute without CPR or a shock from a defibrillator, that person’s chance of survival decreases by 7 to 10%, which means they will more than likely die within 10 minutes.
The only thing that stands between life and death for someone in cardiac arrest is YOU!