How does an AED work?

AED stands for Automated External Defibrillator. An AED is a device which delivers an electrical shock to victims of sudden cardiac arrest (where the heart has stopped beating). 

So how does an AED work?

An AED is a type of defibrillator designed to be used by laypeople with no formal medical training.

All defibrillators work on the sample principle. They deliver electrical shocks to the heart. A common cause of cardiac arrest is disorganised electrical activity in the heart. This is known as Ventricular Fibrillation (VF for short). 

The electrical shock delivered by a defibrillator is designed to clear this disorganised electrical activity and give the heart a chance to restart it’s normal rhythm.

Are AEDs easy to use? 

AEDs are designed to be setup and used by laypeople. They can be found in most public areas including schools, colleges, transit stations and shops.

Once switched on, the AED provides voice prompts to guide the user through using the device. 

The AED will ask the user to apply pads to the victims bare chest. The device then analyses the hearts rhythm and if suitable will provide an electrical shock.

AEDs will not shock a victim if the heart is beating properly.

Different AEDs will have slightly different designs and styles, however they all work in the same broad way. 

Learn how to use an AED online

Sign up to our free online AED training course to find out more about how AEDs work and how to use them in an emergency situation. 

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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