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Why and When to Use a Defibrillator?

defibrillator

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The only way to restore the heart’s regular rhythm in a sudden cardiac arrest is to know when and how to use a defibrillator.

The American Heart Association (AHA) estimates that about 40,000 lives could be saved every year if defibrillators were more widely available. However, many Australians do not currently know where to locate these devices or how to use them.

For this reason, we see room for improvement in defibrillation use which can save thousands more lives annually.

What is a Defibrillator?

Automated external defibrillators (AEDs) are medical devices used to send electrical pulses to restore normal heart rhythm. It is the only way to bring back a regular heartbeat when someone is experiencing sudden cardiac arrest.

Take note only to use AEDs if a person loses consciousness and has obvious symptoms of cardiac arrest.

SCA symptoms can be immediate and drastic in the form of gasping noising paired with abnormal or no breathing. It can also render the casualty unresponsive, unconscious, and without a pulse.

If there are obvious symptoms of cardiac arrest, call triple zero (000) for emergency help and designate someone to search for a defibrillator.

Every minute is crucial in a cardiac emergency – immediately begin CPR and use an AED to restore heart rhythm while waiting for paramedics to take over.

Most public places in Australia, including schools, universities, airports, gyms and wellness centres, malls, and sporting venues, have defibrillators available in case of emergency.

While modern defibrillators are designed to be used by everyone, getting AED and CPR training is best for the best use of this device.

How to Use an Automated External Defibrillator (AED)

In using an AED, the device will have visual or audio prompts guiding you on what to do. Defibrillation is best used with CPR.

Here’s a first aid guide on using AED:

  • Check to see if the casualty is breathing and has a pulse. If there is an absence of both, call triple zero (000) for emergency help.
  • Turn on the AED. The device will give you step-by-step instructions telling you to check for breathing and pulse. It will also guide you in positioning the electrode pads on the casualty’s bare chest.
  • Deliver the shock. Once the pads are in place, the device will automatically assess the casualty’s heart rhythm and determine if there is a need for a shock.
    • If yes, the device will instruct the user to stand back and push the button to deliver the shock.
    • Modern defibrillators are programmed not to deliver a shock when not necessary.

  • Start CPR. Administer CPR after the shock if the person remains unconscious. Repeat the process as needed until emergency services can take over.

Why do we need more defibrillators?

A publicly available AEDs are essential to help someone survive a cardiac arrest. For every minute of delay in delivering a shock and CPR, the chances of survival are lower by 10%.

There are many ways you can help in a cardiac emergency, including learning how to perform CPR and using an AED to become more confident in both techniques. You can also encourage your school, workplace, or local community to get a defibrillator.

Conclusion

Defibrillators are medical devices that deliver a high-energy electric shock to a person’s heart in cardiac arrest. This intervention aims to restart the heart and restore regular rhythm.

If you suspect someone is having cardiac arrest symptoms, it is vital to call emergency services and immediately start CPR. Then designate other bystanders to find a defibrillator close by.

AEDs are now becoming popular in public places, where you can use them to provide a potentially life-saving shock to a victim of SCA.

Proper first aid training can increase your confidence in administering CPR and AED.

To find a first aid course near you, contact us at 008 8382 4677 or email us at courses@firstaidpro.com.au.

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