What is an AED?
An automated external defibrillator (AED) is a portable electronic
device that automatically diagnoses the life-threatening cardiac
arrhythmias of ventricular fibrillation and ventricular tachycardia
in a patient, and is able to treat them through defibrillation, the
application of electrical therapy which stops the arrhythmia,
allowing the heart to reestablish an effective rhythm.
Do I have to be trained?
No, AED's are simple, safe and easy to use; a brief training course is recommended, however, almost all AED's are intuitive and all you have to do is follow the voice commands. They have been used successfully by untrained bystanders when placed in locations readily accessible in public locations. (i.e. airports, malls) Numerous studies demonstrate that "it does not matter who uses the defibrillator as long as it gets to the victim's side quickly" Most AED's are so easy to use, a ten year old could learn to use it in 10 minutes.
When should I use one?
When the victim is unresponsive and does not have a pulse.
What if I do it wrong?
State and Federal Laws now provide legal liability protection for individuals who use AEDs in good faith to help save lives. In fact, legal experts now say that the standard of care is such that lawsuits are more likely if AEDs are not available or are available but not used when they should be. The longer you wait, the more liable you are. The law is known as the Federal “Good Samaritan Law.” When a person collapses of SCA, they are already dead. You can ONLY help them by attempting to use an AED.
The importance of getting an AED to a victim of Sudden Cardiac Arrest immediately is crucial. On average only 7% of SCA victims survive. However, research indicates that 20-45% or more could survive if they were treated quickly enough with defibrillators. If even 20 percent could survive, as many as 50,000 lives could be saved each year. For every minute that lapses after SCA, the chances of survival decrease 7-10%. In other words, if a victim can be treated with a defibrillator immediately, the chances for survival are close to 90%. If the victim is not treated until 10 minutes after the collapse, the chances for survival approach zero.
I appeal today to each of you to approach your school board as soon as possible to budget at least one AED for each school in your County which currently lacks one, and to include training, maintenance plans, and a PLAN OF ACTION. Larger campuses may need more units. If your school board has any black numbers in their budget at all, do it NOW, don't wait for another child or teacher to die. There are numerous resources for this available through grants and foundations who may provide some units for free, however, grants can take a long time to get. Sometimes the school can spend the money and be reimbursed by grants later.
4 Important facts to check with your school or team
1. AED's are available and in well known, visibly accessible locations
2. Make sure staff is trained in their use on a regular (quarterly recommended) basis (due to staff turnaround) most chapters of the American Heart Association offer FREE or low cost training in CPR and AED use.
3. There is a regular maintenance plan (battery/pad check) done on the device.
4. A "PLAN OF ACTION" is in place for immediate use. There should be a Cardiac Emergency Response Plan (CERP) in place and practiced similar to a fire drill. The AED should be taken to any and all Emergency "Child/Teacher Down” calls, even if you think it’s a stubbed toe or broken leg. No one ever expects sudden cardiac arrest in youth.
Click here for a Cardiac Emergency Response Plan:
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HEARTS SCREENED: 392 PEOPLE CPR/AED TRAINED: 162 AEDS PLACED : 54
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