Stand Clear! By this point in our lives, we’ve heard those words thousands of times on our televisions in medical dramas. Defibrillators are becoming more than just bulky machines in hospitals, every day, more and more portable defibrillators enter our community.
Automated External Defibrillators, or AEDs are important. When someone has a cardiac arrest, waiting for an ambulance, or to go to hospital, significantly reduces the chance they will survive. How effective are portable defibrillators? How much of a better chance do they provide?
How effective are AED’s?
A group of scientists decided to study the effects of AEDs in United States Casino’s. They examined the AED’s data and the outcomes. They found that a staggering 74% of cardiac arrest patients survived, if they received defibrillation within 3 minutes. If they received defibrillation from a portable defibrillator after three minutes had passed, the survival rate dropped to 49 percent. How do these survival rates compare to the national average? The average survival rate in the USA is less than 10 percent. What a huge difference! Out of every 100 people, 74 could live with quick defibrillation, compared to the 10 who currently survive. In Australia, over thirty-three thousand people have a cardiac arrest out of hospital each year. If we applied those figures, that means 24,420 could survive instead of the 3300 that currently do. Defibrillators are a valuable investment for your workplace, home and your community. How do defibrillators save so many lives?
How do AED’s work?
Ok, so imagine someone has a cardiac arrest. They stop breathing, and they fall unconscious. But what is happening inside? The heart has electrical signals that tell it when to beat. When a person has a cardiac arrest, those signals are disrupted. As a result, the heart, rather than rhythmically pumping starts to fibrillate or in layman’s terms, “shudder.” When the heart is doing this, a shock running across the heart allows the hearts electrical signals to reset themselves and the heart starts pumping normally again. You may wonder though are portable AED’s hard to use?
How do you use a Defibrillators?
The good news is that portable defibrillators are not hard to use! Anyone can learn to use one! But before you get started, it’s first important to know how to prepare a patient first.
Before you can use a defibrillator on someone, you’ll need to get them ready for shock. Thankfully, a kit is kept with most defibrillators that can help. To put defibrillator pads on a person their chest will need to be bare. When every second counts, you don’t want to waste time undoing each button. Scissors are included in preparation kits so use them to remove clothing.
Once their chest is exposed, if you notice a lot of hair, it could present a problem. Defibrillator pads don’t like to stick to hairy chests. The preparation kit includes a razor that can help you clear a space for the pads. Also included is a towelette, if you need to quickly dry a wet patient.
Okay, so once you’ve got the patient prepared, what’s next? Easy, turn the defibrillator on. You will hear a voice from the defibrillator that will tell you what to do throughout the whole process. First, AED’s will tell you to apply defibrillator pads.
Where do defibrillator pads go? Simply pull them from the machine and place one pad slightly below the collar bone on the person’s right chest above the nipple and the other below the armpit on the patient’s left side. You’ll see a picture on the defibrillators or the pads of where they are to go.
After that, you’ll hear the defibrillator tell you “Stand clear, analysing.” During this stage, the defibrillator will examine the patient’s heart rhythm. If the persons heart rhythm is “fibrillating” and needs a shock, the defibrillator will tell you to stand clear, and then ask you to press a button to deliver the shock. After that the defibrillator will check to see if the shock has worked. If the shock hasn’t worked, the process will repeat. In between shocks, it may advise you to give CPR. If the defibrillator determines that no shock is required it will advise you to keep giving CPR. Of course, there is more to learn about defibrillators. You can learn more in any nationally recognised first aid course.
When it comes to portable defibrillator, there are a few “What-if’s” that may come to mind. First: What if a defibrillator shocks someone whose heart is beating normally? This is one what if you don’t need to worry about. Defibrillators don’t shock beating hearts. They have inbuilt sensors that determine whether a heart needs to be shocked or not. They only shock when needed. Another What If: If I’m not a qualified first aider, can I still use a defibrillator? Absolutely! The defibrillator coaches you through the whole process, and has handy picture instructions on the outside. Anyone can give it a go, though we do recommend learning to use a defibrillator in a first aid course.
In this article, we’ve learned why defibrillators are so important, how they work, how to use them and considered the answer to a few what-ifs. No longer are defibrillators exclusively the realm of hospitals and ambulances, anyone can use one to save a life! And with affordable defibrillators starting at less than $2000, there’s no better time to get one than now!