Tips for Using a Public Defibrillator

Most people will never have to use a public access defibrillator (PAD), but they are available to people at large events because, in the case of an emergency, they can mean the difference between life and death. However, they are not going to be helpful unless you know how to operate one. In the same way it is useful to know CPR in the case of a rare emergency, it is useful to know how to use a public defibrillator, because you may literally only have seconds to act. Here are a few tips to keep in mind should an emergency ever arise that puts you in the position to use one.

Spotting a Cardiac Arrest

First of all, before you actually use the AED (automated external defibrillator) you need to determine if the person is, in fact, suffering from a sudden cardiac arrest. This will require you to do the following. If you see them collapse or find a person that appears to be unconscious, confirm that they are by shouting at the person, shaking them and checking to see if they are breathing. If there is still no response, then you will want to call 999 or preferably have someone near you call 999. You want help to be on the way as quickly as possible. Next, if an AED is close by, get your bystander to get it after summoning help, check for pulse and breaths. If there are none, then you need to get the AED out and ready for use as soon as possible. In the case of sudden cardiac arrest, usually you only have minutes before a person dies.

If you do not have quick access to a public defibrillator, then you will want to perform two minutes of CPR first, before you use the AED. This can also give someone else time to get it for you – if there is someone there to help with the situation. Once you use the AED, continue to give CPR until emergency aid arrives or until the person begins to show signs of life. You should try to provide continuous CPR if possible without any breaks, but if you must take a break try to make them short and less than a few seconds.

After two minutes of CPR has elapsed, if you do not see any change in the condition you can check the person’s heart rhythm with the AED, and then administer another shock if necessary. If you check the heart rhythm and you do not need to shock again, then continue to give CPR until help arrives. The AED talks to you by offering audible and visual prompts.