Monday, 5 August 2013

5 Things you need to know about AEDs

Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs), also known as defibrillators, could be the key to saving a loved one’s life who’s fallen victim to a Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA).

Although defibrillators can be used by non-medically trained personnel, simple training of when and how to use an AED can increase the time needed to assess the situation and act.

As a malfunction of the heart’s electrical system, cardiac arrest is sometimes a complication of ventricular fibrillation, and causes more than half of the deaths that result from cardiovascular disease. Survival rates jump up sharply from 5 percent to more than 80 percent when someone steps in and quickly uses an automated external defibrillator (AED) to restart the heart. There is no law in the UK to protect a first aider legally, but there have been no reported cases of anyone being prosecuted as a result of trying to help.

What is an AED?
An automated external defibrillator (AED) is a small computerised medical device that analyses a person’s heart rhythm. The AED is programmed to detect the type of heart rhythm which requires intervention. It includes simple instructions and automated voice directions. Used by a trained operator outside of the hospital setting, the AED gives an electrical shock called defibrillation to restore a normal rhythm, if needed. Using an AED within the first few minutes can reverse cardiac arrest and saves lives.
How does an AED work? 
An AED measures the unresponsive person’s heart rhythm. The computerised device then gives  voice instructions to the rescuer, based on the heart rhythm.  The AED safely delivers an electric shock to the victim’s chest that can reset normal heart rhythm at once. “It is essential that quick defibrillation occur in order to save the patient’s life.  With each minute the patient is in ventricular fibrillation the likelihood of survival goes down,” Kevin R. Campbell, MD, FACC, a cardiologist at UNC Health Care/Rex said. The benefits to the patient are tremendous, he added, “AEDs change the survival rate from less than 5 percent to more than 80 percent with quick defibrillation.” With simple training, you can greatly change the person’s odds of survival during cardiac arrest. 
When do I use an AED?
Cardiac arrest can occur anytime and anyplace without warning. During cardiac arrest, the person’s heart beat becomes irregular and erratic — known as ventricular fibrillation — and unless a shock is delivered, the patient will die. “Every minute that a patient remains in the erratic heart rhythm, the likelihood of survival goes down exponentially,” says Dr. Campbell. In his experience, heart attacks often occur in the early morning hours when adrenaline and cortisol levels are at their highest.
The operator of an AED must be able to detect symptoms of sudden cardiac arrest. It is time to get an AED if a person:
·         Becomes unresponsive suddenly
·         Stops breathing
·         Does not take a breath when you tilt the head up
This is the emergency situation where every minute counts, so call 999 and get an AED.
Where can I find an AED?
There are currently no laws in the UK that requires defibrillators in public places, although organisations such as AEDs in Scotland are campaigning for all communities in Scotland to have access to one.
Websites such as advises communities where the nearest public access defibrillator is located. Martek Medical recommend that you know where the nearest AED to you is, and how to access it (some require a code obtained by calling 999).
How can I get trained on using an AED to save hearts and lives?
Martek’s Lifeline AED was designed specifically to be simple and unintimidating enough to allow non-medical users to save lives. Even though it is simple to use, we do recommend that the purchase of one of these lifesaving devices is complimented by a professional training course to not only familiarise yourself fully with the product but to also get some hands on experience of  using the AED under expert guidance. This also gives you the ideal opportunity to ask any questions or ease any concerns you may have so that you have the confidence to use the Lifeline AED to save someone’s life without a moment’s hesitation.

The AED training unit supports the training course to keep your AED training fresh in your mind and your skills up-to-date with regular skills and practice – you never know when you may need it!