These days anyone can save a life. Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) make it possible for bystanders to perform life saving actions with little or no training. Voice prompts and simple instructions make AEDs incredibly easy to operate, giving any rescuer the chance to act.
For those of you who don’t know, an AED is a small machine that can analyze a heart rhythm. It can determine whether or not the heart rhythm is beating effectively, if not, the AED can deliver a shock that will likely restart the heart. An AED will only advise the individual using the device to deliver a shock if the heart is in a rhythm which can be corrected by defibrillation.
Signs of cardiac arrest include: no breathing, no movement or response to initial rescue breaths, and no pulse. Often the only “cure” of sudden cardiac arrest is rapid defibrillation with an AED.
• In Canada, 35,000 to 45,000 people die of sudden cardiac arrest each year
• AEDs are safe, easy to use, and can be used effectively by trained medical and nonmedical individuals. Trained responders have effectively used AEDs in many public settings, including casinos, airport terminals, and airplanes. Trained laypersons can use AEDs safely and effectively.
• An AED is an efficient and effective means of achieving rapid defibrillation in both the out-of-hospital and in-hospital setting.
• Sudden cardiac arrest occurs with a frequency of roughly 1 per 1000 people 35 years of age or older per year.
• Any location that has 1000 adults over the age of 35 present per day during normal business hours (7.5 hours/day, 5 days per week, 250 days per year) can expect 1 incident of sudden cardiac arrest every 5 years.
• For every one minute delay in defibrillation, the survival rate of a cardiac arrest victim decreases by 7 to 10%. After more than 12 minutes of ventricular fibrillation, the survival rate of adults is less than 5%.
• Currently there is evidence to support a recommendation to use AEDs for children over the age of 1, but not for children under the age of 1.
• Across Canada, some provinces regulate the use of AEDs, while other provinces do not. Information about individual provincial regulations can be obtained from the provincial Heart and Stroke Foundation offices.
With time being a major critical factor for surviving cardiac arrest, it is imperative that the public have widespread access and training to AED devices. Public Access Defibrillation (PAD) trials have demonstrated a doubling of survival rates (from 15% to 30%) in facilities with high likelihood and with trained staff always available.
Spread the word, AEDs = Lives Saved