Correct AED Pad Placement

An Automated External Defibrillator (AED) is a medical device that delivers an electrical shock to a victim in cardiac arrest. A cardiac arrest occurs when a victim’s heart stops beating and blood stops flowing around the body.

Unfortunately, sudden cardiac arrest has a poor outcome unless a victim receives timely CPR and defibrillation. To improve survival from cardiac arrest there is now a push to have more publically accessible AEDs. Many workplaces, educational institutions, and public buildings now have an AED installed and have trained staff in its use.

AEDs are designed to be used by laypeople with no medical training, however, the American Heart Association (AHA) does advise potential operators of an AED to have basic training in its use and CPR. 

AED Pad Placement is Vital

An AED delivers a shock to a victim using two pads placed directly onto the victim’s chest. The positioning of these pads is important, as the electrical shock needs to travel through the heart muscle. 

The first pad is placed underneath the victim’s collarbone (clavicle). The second pad is placed on the left chest wall, underneath the armpit. As the diagram shows, this allows the electrical shock to travel through the victim’s heart.

Most AED pads come with written and visual instructions on where the place the pads.

Common AED Pad Placement Mistakes

The second pad placed on the left side of the chest wall should be positioned underneath the victim’s armpit. A common mistake is to place this pad on the front of the chest, this is likely to make an AED shock less effective.

AED pads need to be placed in direct contact with the skin. Excessive chest hair can reduce pad contact with the skin and risk causing burns. Many AEDs come with a small razor in order to remove chest hair before pad placement. 

John Furst

JOHN FURST is an experienced emergency medical technician and qualified first aid and CPR instructor. John is passionate about first aid and believes everyone should have the skills and confidence to take action in an emergency situation.

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