WHAT IS DEFIBRILLATION?

When a person goes into cardiac arrest, the most common initial rhythm is called VF - Ventricular Fibrillation. The ventricles of the heart are in a crazy, erratic rhythm. They are moving very fast yet no blood is being pumped out of the heart.  CPR cannot correct VF but  a defibrillator can.  A defibrillator is a device that sends an electrical shock through the heart and stops the ventricles from fibrillating.

WHAT IS AN AED?

AED stands for  Automated External Defibrillator.  When you turn the AED on, it will tell you to place the electrode pads on the victim's bare chest.  The AED will begin analyzing the victim's heart rhythm immediately.  If the victim is in VF or V Tach (another fast, pulse less rhythm), the AED will begin to charge and tell you to push the shock button.  You push the shock button and the first shock will be delivered.  If that shock does not stop the VF, the AED will tell you to shock again.  After three shocks, the AED will tell you to check the victim's pulse and begin CPR if there is no pulse.  After you do CPR for approximately one minute, the AED will begin analyzing the victim's rhythm again.  This is repeated until EMS arrives. 

IF I HAVE A DEFIBRILLATOR DO I HAVE TO DO CPR?

CPR and Defibrillation work together.  CPR keeps the victim oxygenated.  The defibrillator will stop the erratic VF rhythm in the heart so that the normal rhythm of heart can be established again.  

WHAT IF I ACCIDENTALLY SHOCK SOMEONE?

Even if you accidentally hit the shock button, the AED will not go off.  The only time you will be able to shock is if the AED tells you that a shock is advised and it tells you to push the shock button.

CAN ANYONE USE A DEFIBRILLATOR?

As the law stands in New York State right now, you must hold a current card in defibrillation and be under the direction of a medical director in order to use the AED.  Hopefully these laws will be changing in the near future and laypersons will be able to use the device to save a life!!!