The automated external defibrillator (AED) has become a standard fixture and widely used in public places such as gyms, schools, businesses, and churches. Because of the simplicity of using AED’s, it allows non-medical people to respond to medical emergencies until emergency medical services arrive to assist the victim. The timed lap between the collapsing of the victim and defibrillation could determine whether or not the victim survives. Quickly assessing the patient’s condition to assure that the patient is suffering from a sudden cardiac arrest is vital before, administering help with the aid of an AED. Unnecessary use of an AED shock can cause cardiac arrest.  

If you witness a person who suddenly collapses and passes out, or you find them unconscious, first, establish non-responsiveness. Shout and shake the victim to make sure he or she isn’t sleeping. Never shake an infant or young child. Instead, you can gently pinch the child to establish alertness. Call 911 or have someone else call. If two rescuers are present, one can provide CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) while the other rescuer calls 911 and obtain the AED.

The rescuer should check the victims breathing and pulse rate. If breathing and pulse are absent, or heart rate is irregular, prepare to use the AED as soon as possible. Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) results in death if it’s not treated immediately. If the victim is found unconscious and the downtime cannot be determined, or an AED isn’t readily available, someone should perform two minutes of CPR immediately. When the AED arrives, check for a pulse, if absent a shock is indicated.

Reassess the victim, if no pulse is present, continue CPR until emergency medical help arrives or until the victim regains consciousness. Try to limit pauses in CPR efforts and repeat the use of the AED after every 2 minutes of CPR on patients without a pulse. If the patient regains a pulse no shock is needed but, continue CPR. As a healthcare professional, you never know when you may be faced with a situation that requires you to perform a life-saving maneuver outside of the hospital setting. The use of the AED is simple but could be intimidating if it’s your first time using it. Watch this short, simple video of how to use the AED.

The Use of an AED- (Total time 2:09 minutes) (Links to an external site.)

Life-Threatening Arrhythmias 

As discussed in week one, arrhythmias are irregular or abnormal heartbeats. This will occur when the electrical impulses are no longer uniform. There are two life-threatening arrhythmias, that can cause cardiac arrest. Defibrillation and CPR are needed immediately. 

  • Pulseless ventricular tachycardia – the ventricles contract at a rapid rate, known as ventricular tachycardia. The rapid pumping becomes inefficiently that no pulse can be detected. This results in vital organs not receiving oxygen.
  • Ventricular fibrillation- is no rhythm is present because the electrical system becomes disordered. The heart muscles only quiver and no blood is pumped.

Using an Automated External Defibrillator for Adults and Children 8 and Over

AEDs are user-friendly devices that untrained bystanders can use to save the life of someone having a sudden cardiac arrest (SCA). The rescuer should perform a scene safety check for potentially dangerous situations such as puddles or water near the person. Be certain that the patient is in a dry area before activating the device to avoid being shocked (water conducts electricity).

  • You may need to turn on the AED’s power depending on the device, some automatic power on
  • Follow the device directions, and it will give you step-by-step instructions
  • Expose the victim’s bare chest and be sure it is dry

Locate the sticky pads with sensors referred to as electrodes. Follow the pictured instructions on the proper placement of the electrodes. 

Automated External Defibrillator

Image result for AED steps

The image shows a typical setup using an automated external defibrillator (AED). The AED has step-by-step instructions and voice prompts that enable an untrained bystander to correctly use the machine. The electrodes should have a good connection with the skin; a poor connection isn’t good; the machine may repeat the phrase “check electrodes.” Excessive chest hair will result in a poor connection. AEDs usually come with a kit that includes scissors and or a razor for you to remove excessive hair for lead placement.

Special Considerations 

  • Remove medication patches and clean the area before applying the sticky pads
  • Remove metal necklaces and underwire bras which may conduct electricity and cause burns
  • Check for medical alert bracelets indicating implanted pacemakers or cardioverter-defibrillator
  • Check for body piercings place defibrillator pads at least 1 inch away from implanted devices or piercings so the electric current can flow freely between the pads
  • Assure that electrode wires are properly connected to the AED
  • Instruct others not to touch the victim as AED’s “analyze” button is pressed
  • Do not touch the victim as the machine checks the person’s heart rhythm
  • If a shock is indicated, the AED will let you know when to deliver it
  • Start or resume CPR until emergency medical help arrives or until the victim begins to respond
  • Remain with the victim until medical help arrives and provide a report of occurrences

Procedure for Infants 

Continue compressions and breaths at 30:2 and use AED when a pulse is not detected. Re-evaluate the infant every five cycles or 2 minutes and repeat the cycle. 

Along with quality CPR, the proper use of the AED is also important to increase the chances of the victim’s survival. When you complete your CPR training the use of the AED will be included. This week we have covered many important aspects of life-saving techniques that will be a part of your day-to-day walk as a respiratory therapist. Please be sure to complete your readings, to gain the in-depth knowledge and skills that you will in the field to make you efficient in Basic Life Support a life-saving necessity.  


American Heart Association. (2015). ACLS Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support Provider Manual: Professional. American Heart Association. 


For this assignment, write a paper of at least 500 words discussing the following topics. 

1. The proper procedures for performing CPR one and two rescuers of adults, children, and infants.

2. The proper and indicated use of an Automatic External Defibrillator (AED) in adults, children, and infants.