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What is an AED or Automated External Defibrillator?
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An AED, or Automated External Defibrillator, is a small, portable device which analyzes the heart's rhythm and prompts the user to deliver a defibrillation shock if it determines one is needed. The AED is an uncomplicated device having zero, one or two control buttons and a pair of self-stick electrode pads which are placed on the victim's bare chest. Once the lid is opened or on some AEDs they must be turned on, the AED guides the user through each step of the defibrillation process by providing voice or visual prompts (or both).
   
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The AED is designed to detect two shockable heart rhythms—Ventricular Fibrillation (VF), and rapid Ventricular Tachycardia (VT). An AED does not require critical care expertise or sophisticated medical training to operate; it is not even necessary for the user to be able to identify the specific arrhythmia. The AED itself is programmed to analyze the heart's electrical function.

   
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When the AED detects either of these two arrhythmias, the machine charges and depending of the AED, it will advise the user that a shock is advised and it will deliver a shock or it prompts the user to push the button to administer the shock, sending a lifesaving pulse of electrical current to the heart. AEDs will not allow a shock to be delivered unless the victim requires a shock.
It is important to know that early CPR and rapid defibrillation with an AED can often save someone who is experiencing sudden cardiac arrest.
   
CHAIN OF SURVIVAL
   
The key to saving a victim of sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) is time. For every minute that passes without defibrillation, a victim's chance of survival decreases 10%.
   
   
Public Access Defibrillation Programs (PAD)
   
PAD programs require AEDs to be placed near locations where people work or gather. Simply distributing AEDs is not enough! Successful programs actively recruit and make it easy for as many people as possible to acquire the skills and the confidence to use AEDs during emergencies. It is also important to have frequent in-services/meetings to advise all employees and students (if on a school campus) where the AEDs are located.
   
   
 

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The Shauna Ann Stuewe Memorial Foundation • PO Box 27246 • Anaheim, CA 92808