Ways & How

how to use a defibrillator

how to use a defibrillator

A defibrillator is used to save people suffering from life-threatening heart conditions like cardiac arrhythmias, ventricular fibrillation, and pulseless ventricular tachycardia. In these rare and emergency cases, knowing how to use a defibrillator can definitely save a life. When performing defibrillation, you are actually normalizing the patient’s heart rhythm. The mechanism of a defibrillator is to deliver a therapeutic amount of electricity that shocks the heart in the hope of normalizing it. The depolarization of the heart muscle because of the electrical energy gives the sino-atrial node of the heart a chance to reestablish its normal sinus rhythm. Today, an automated external defibrillator (AED) is readily available in certain places like government establishments, airports, hotels, schools, malls, terminal stations and many more. What sets this device from an ordinary defibrillator is that AEDs can automatically diagnose a rhythm, thus giving you a cue when to use an AED appropriately. This also means that an ordinary person can perform this and can help save a life.

Here are the steps on how to use an automated external defibrillator (AED):

  1. The first thing that you do when you see someone unconscious is to call an emergency hotline. It is always safe to let the paramedics guide you through the first few steps while they get ready to be on the scene. Stay with them on the phone and listen carefully to the instructions they provide. They might need some information about the victim so you have to be very observant.

  2. Next thing to keep in mind is ABC: Airway, Breathing, and Circulation. These are probably the things that the paramedics will ask about. When you see that it is safe to go near the victim, immediately put your ear close to their mouth. Check their pulse too. If the victim is not breathing, check their mouth for any object that may be obstructing the airway. If everything is clear, ask a bystander to get an automated external defibrillator (AED) while you do CPR. Thirty compressions should be accompanied by two breaths. It is important for CPR to not be interrupted. Ask somebody if they can substitute you if ever you get tired.

  3. While somebody is doing CPR, immediately turn on the AED. There will be a voice and visual instruction guide for you to follow. Remove the victim’s shirt, watch, rings and other jewelry. Check for piercings and studs (stomach, tongue, etc).

  4. Attach the electrode pads to the victim’s chest. Make sure to follow the visual prompts seen in the AED. One electrode pad should be placed on the upper right side of the victim’s chest and the other should be on the lower left part.

  5. When you have placed the electrode pads correctly, stop the CPR and plug the pads into the connector. It will now analyze the victim’s heart activity, and it will also assess the victim’s need for a shock. It is important that you make sure that nobody is touching the patient while the AED is in this process.

  6. Now, when the AED determines the need for a shock, it will prompt you to press the orange button in order to deliver the shock. Before pressing the button, say the word “clear” so that everybody is aware that they can’t touch the patient.

  7. Wait for a couple of seconds as the AED will determine if the victim still needs another shock. If the machine says to press the orange button again, just repeat step number 6. There are also machines that will administer the shock automatically.

  8. After that, check again the victim’s breathing and pulse. If the victim is positive for breathing, wait for the paramedics to arrive. If breathing is negative, start CPR again. If the victim is pulse-less, then repeat step 5.

It is always a good feeling that you are able to help other people in need. Knowing how to use a defibrillator is just one of the many things that you can learn in order to help others. You never know, the next life you have to save might be the one closest to you.


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