AED Myths

For the average American, experience with Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) is limited to what is seen on television and in movies.  These small, but mighty machines can be quite intimidating for those who are not familiar with their proper use.  But, given the grim statistics for survival following a Sudden Cardiac Arrest, it is crucial that we not only increase availability to these life saving devices, but also educate the general population in proper use.

In order to dispel unnecessary fears regarding these life saving devices, we have compiled a list of common AED misconceptions.

Myth 1 – An AED will always deliver a shock to a cardiac arrest victim.

Modern AED’s have built in safe guards, which allow them to analyze the heart rhythm of a victim.  The electrodes attached to the victim’s chest will determine if an electric shock is necessary.  If a heart rhythm is detected, an electric shock is not delivered.  AED’s are highly regulated by the FDA and are rigorously tested to ensure these safe guards function properly.

Myth 2 – An AED will cause a victim to convulse when shocked.

It is perhaps one of the most common misconceptions that a victim’s body will jump or convulse violently when receiving electric shock.  In actuality, there may be movement in the victim’s shoulders, but the rest of the body typically remains still.

Myth 3 – AEDs may only be used by trained professionals.

AED devices have voice and/or display instructions that will guide an by-stander in the proper use of the device.  The step-by-step directions are designed to be simple and clear, understanding that the user may have never received training and may be experiencing emotional distress.

Myth 4 – It is possible for the person administering the AED shock to be shocked themselves.

As mentioned previously, the AED’s electrodes will not administer a shock if a heartbeat is detected.  The AED’s directions will also notify the user, prior to initiating a shock, to remove all contact with the victim.  

Myth 5 – AEDs are not necessary, because emergency professionals will arrive in time.

On average, it takes EMS units 7 minutes to arrive on the scene of an emergency, increasing to 14 minutes in rural areas.  Yet, only 3 minutes without blood flow to the brain leads to worsening brain injury.  After 9 minutes, irreversible brain damage is likely.

Myth 6 – An AED is not necessary to restart a heart if CPR is being performed.

The primary function of CPR is to continue the flow of blood and oxygen to a person’s vital organs, following a cardiac arrest event.  It is unlikely that CPR will restart the heart, so electric shock from a defibrillator will be necessary.

For victims of cardiac arrest, an AED can provide a chance at life and should not be feared.  The built-in safe guards and user friendly format should put users’ minds at ease, but the single best way to ensure you are prepared to use an AED is to be trained.  Call us to schedule a CPR/AED class!