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Common Myths about AED’s

Common Myths about AED’s

In Ireland approximately 5,000 people die each year from sudden cardiac arrest each year.  70% of cardiac arrests in Ireland occur outside of a hospital.  If a bystander is trained in Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) and use of an Automated External Defibrillator (AED), they can administer this to a victim and double their chances of survival  (www.aedireland.ie) .   In this blog we aim to squash some common myths about AED’s that exist about its use as they can have such a major role in saving someone’s life.

If I use an AED on a casualty, I might make them worse:

It is not possible for an AED to shock a person whose heart is in normal rhythm.  AED’s contain software which analyses a cardiac rhythm and will not deliver a shock if the heart does not require it.  If the AED tells you to apply a shock, which is the only way this patient can possibly survive, the shock cannot hurt the patient, it can only help them!  If someone is unconscious and not breathing, if you don’t do anything they may die.

For every minute that goes by the chances of successful defibrillation decline at a rate of 7 to 10%.  Survival rates are approximately 50% and potentially higher with younger people if a defibrillator is used within 5 minutes.  If time to defibrillation is 10 minutes, survival rates approach zero percent without CPR and 10 to 20% if CPR has been used (www.hse.ie).   This emphasis’s the need for knowledge and skills in CPR and AED use to be more widespread in our community.

AED’s are complicated to use and should only be used by trained professionals:

AED’s are designed to be used by the general public and are actually simple and easy to use.  AED’s give voice/visual prompts that can easily allow anyone to operate it, they tell you exactly what to do step by step.  Whist not compulsory it would be better to be trained on how to give CPR and use an AED as this will provide you with the knowledge, skills and confidence to give the casualty the best possible chance of survival.  If more people were trained in CPR, more lives could be saved.

 The Pre-Hospital Emergency Care Council (PHECC) has approved Cardiac First Response (CFR) training as industry standard.  This course provides training in effective CFR and use of an AED.  For further information see the Education and Training section on the PHECC website www.phecc.ie

If I use an AED I might shock myself or someone else by accident:

AED’s usually say something like “do not touch the patient” before a shock is delivered.  If you happen to put a hand on the patient when a shock is delivered you may feel a slight tingle.

When you shock someone with an AED, their arms and legs flail and they jump off the surface:

Many people believe that when a shock is delivered by and AED the patient’s body jerks violently like on TV. That is not the case. When someone is shocked by an AED you may see a very slight shoulder shrug or movement, but their arms and legs will not shoot up like in the movies.

Delivering a shock with an AED is jump starting the heart, the same as you do with a car:

Actually, it is the reverse from jump-starting the heart.  It stops the heart to allow the heart’s natural back-up system to take over and return it to normal sinus rhythm.

You don’t need to do CPR if you are using a defibrillator:

If using a defibrillator, it is essential that effective CPR is given alongside with it.  CPR helps maintain vital blood flow to the heart and brain and increases the amount of time that an electric shock from a defibrillator can be effective.

A defibrillator will always bring a casualty back to life:

Unfortunately, this is not the case. There are many reasons why someone may experience a sudden cardiac arrest and it is not possible to resuscitate everyone. To give someone the best possible chance you need effective CPR, early defibrillator and prompt transfer to professional medical care.

Chain of survival image

You can’t use a defibrillator on children:

If a child is unconscious and not breathing, you should use a defibrillator as quickly as possible in the same way as you would with an adult. Where possible you would use pediatric pads but if there are none available you can use the adult pads by placing one on the front of the chest and one on their back.

Sure, a paramedic will arrive before I need to use a defibrillator:

I am afraid that this is highly unlikely as our emergency services are hugely overstretched and they are not likely to be with you within 3 minutes.  Emergency services are hugely overstretched and are unlikely to be with you within 3 minutes.  In rural areas, Emergency Service Personnel may have to travel long distances to reach you.  In urban areas they may have to content with traffic which can cause delays.  By having an AED on site, you keep those around you safer.  Remember, you only have minutes to act so never assume that time is on your side.

About us

Donegal Safety Services provide a number of first aid training courses including the  PHECC CFR Course which includes training on use of an AED and effective CFR.  All of our courses are Covid-19 compliant, press here for view our Covid-19 policy in full.

If you have any questions at all regarding any of our courses we would be delighted to hear from you.  You can contact us by visiting our contact us page or by emailing us directly on info@donegalsafetyservices.ie

Donegal Safety Services provides this information for guidance and it is not in any way a substitute for medical advice. Donegal Safety Services is not responsible or liable for any diagnosis made, or actions taken on this information.

Hope you enjoyed this article on some of the common myths about AED’s