The Automatic External Defibrillator, or AED, is a small, portable machine that can quickly analyze the condition of the heart and deliver a quick shock to re-start a heartbeat in people who have experienced a sudden collapse. They were designed to be easy to use, even for average people.

These devices are known to save lives, but many people are unfamiliar with the technology or otherwise have fears about using it in emergency situations.

Using An AED

An AED is a device that fits into a case about the size of a small briefcase. It contains a small computer that can analyze heart rate, electrode “pads” that stick to the person’s chest and wires that connect the pads to the device. It also includes recorded vocal instructions to guide the person through the steps of using the device.

AEDs are found in ambulances, fire engines and in many places where large numbers of people assemble, such as sports arenas, airports, office complexes and other venues. The device can tell when a shock should be administered to a stricken person. It can also detect when a shock should not be given.

Low Use of Devices

AEDs have been found to increase the rate of survival from sudden heart attack by as much as 30 percent.

The devices have been designed to be extremely simple to use. However, health and safety experts find that they are frequently not being employed to help these victims. The reasons behind the low rates of use can be complex, but generally fall into a few basic categories.

Public Unfamiliarity With AEDs

Unfortunately, many people have never seen an automatic external defibrillator and have no idea how the devices are used.This lack of knowledge about the device can cause reluctance to employ it in emergency situations.

If more employers included the use of AEDs in standard safety training, more people would become familiar with these devices, leading to greater use in non-work situations.

Fears About Complexity of the Device

The very word “defibrillator” may work against its widespread use. The word conjures high-tech hospital settings and trained personnel, which can serve to intimidate average people.

The fact is, AEDs are designed to be easy enough for almost anyone to use. Take advantage of any opportunity to learn how to use this life-saving device.

Fears About Hurting the Injured

Because the AED is designed to deliver a shock to the victim of a heart problem, many people may be afraid about accidentally hurting the person. However, the devices will only deliver a shock if the device deems it necessary.

The National Institute of Health states that AEDs are safe to use for both the person suffering from the heart problem and the person implementing the device. No injuries have been reported in either case to date.

If you have questions about AEDs or would like to learn the proper use of this device, sign up for a CPR course in your local community, which usually include instructions on the use of this life-saving equipment.