What Is A Defibrillator?
A defibrillator, or commonly known as an automated external defibrillator (AED), are small electronic devices that were designed to allow ordinary people to provide lifesaving defibrillation (electric shock to the heart) to victims of sudden cardiac arrest.
Unlike the defibrillators seen on medical TV shows, AEDs are small, lightweight and very easy to operate. They are about the size of a lunch box and have adhesive electrode pads that rescuers attach to the person’s chest.
A defibrillator is very simple to use yet houses the same sophisticated defibrillation technology relied on by emergency medical services personnel and physicians.
How Does A Defibrillator Work?
A defibrillator is programmed to tell rescuers exactly what to do using voice and visual prompts. Rescuers attach adhesive electrode pads to the person’s chest. Through these electrodes, the AED is designed to automatically analyze the electrical activity of the heart to determine if a “shockable” rhythm is present. An AED is so easy to use even untrained school children can operate one quickly and correctly.
With voice prompts and pictures the defibrillator guides rescuers through the resuscitation process, advising when to give CPR. If the defibrillator determines the person’s heart needs a shock, it tells rescuers to stand back so a shock can be safely given through the adhesive electrode pads affixed to the person’s chest. (Note: Some defibrillator models will tell the user to push a button to shock and then ‘stand clear’ of the victim, while others are fully automatic and will automatically give the shock after giving rescuers a ‘stand clear’ warning.)
The delivery of an electrical shock to a heart experiencing Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) briefly stops all electrical activity in the heart. This brief break from the previous electrical chaos should be enough for the heart to restart with a normal rhythm.
Not everyone can be saved from Sudden Cardiac Arrest, even with defibrillation. But early defibrillation, especially when delivered within three to five minutes of a person’s collapse from SCA, does provide the best chance for survival.
1. CALL 000
Call Triple Zero (000) immediately and ask for an Ambulance
Don’t hang up! The Triple Zero (000) Call-taker will stay on the phone until an Ambulance arrives and may need to ask you more questions
The Call-taker will talk you through what to do
Place the heel of your hand in the centre of the chest and the other hand on top
Push hard and fast in the centre of the chest
Push to a rate of 100-120 compressions every minute (2 compressions every second) or push to the beat of “Staying Alive”.
Push hard. You can’t do any harm, but you may save a life.
If you have learned how to do it, provide 2 rescue breaths between every 30 compressions, otherwise push the chest continuously.
If a defibrillator (also known as AED) is available, switch it on immediately – it will tell you what to do.
You do not need any training to use an AED. Learn more.