What is an AED?

An AED (Automated External Defibrillator) is a medical device which can be used by almost anyone to save the life of a person in cardiac arrest. The AED makes treatment decisions, and a user only needs to follow the instructions provided by the device to use it successfully.

What is an AED?

The “A” and “E” in AED

The “A” in AED stands for “Automated”, which means that the device automatically performs its operation, with a user only following the instructions provided by the AED. AEDs approved for use in Canada all talk to the user once they are turned on (some AEDs also provide video instruction to a user on a video screen on the front of the AED). The AED will automatically move to the next step in its operation as a user performs the AED’s instructions.

The “E” in AED stands for “External”. All AEDs are connected to the skin of a person’s body by stick-on electrode pads. This means that a user only has to follow the instructions of the AED to stick the electrode pads onto the body of the patient. Once the pads are “stuck-on” the patient, the AED senses this and will advance to the next step in its operation.

What’s the Difference Between an AED and a Defibrillator?

While all AEDs are defibrillators, not all defibrillators are AEDs. Defibrillator usually refers to a device used in a hospital or by Advance Life Support Responders.  These defibrillators do not normally work in an automatic or automated way. The highly trained users of defibrillators actually perform the heart rhythm analysis and make decisions about the patient’s treatment.

What is Defibrillation?

A person’s heart normally beats in a way that it pumps blood throughout a person’s body. Some types of heartbeats (heart rhythms) do not pump blood effectively in a person’s body. These heart rhythms are called Cardiac Arrest. When a person’s heart is defibrillated by delivering an electric shock to the heart, this usually helps the heart to return to a heartbeat which restores the pumping action of the heart.

When Do You Use an Automated External Defibrillator?

An AED should be used any time person is unresponsive and does not appear to be breathing. This means a patient will not typically be moving or speaking.

Can Anyone Use an AED?

Yes, anyone who can follow the instructions provided by the AED can use the device. In addition, knowing how to perform CPR is an important part of saving a Cardiac Arrest victim. While AEDs can be used by almost anyone, it is preferrable that responders receive some training.

What are the Best AEDs?

AEDs recommended and sold by MediQuest have all been approved by Health Canada. Our detailed evaluation of AEDs is performed by our Professional Responders who evaluate and recommend AEDs based on the following:

  • Simple for anyone to use – especially ensuring it is easy to connect the electrode pads
  • Quick set up and delivery of a shock when needed
  • Durability and long-life
  • Ease of monitoring its readiness for emergency use
  • Warranty
  • Cost of device and replacement parts

See the study The Usability of Five Automated External Defibrillators by Minimally Trained Bystanders, University of Illinois Medical Center, Chicago Illinois.

Need training? MediQuest provides AED, CPR and occupational first aid training.
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