How to Use a Defibrillator

The human heart is a vital organ that performs the task of pumping oxygenated blood to various parts of the body. The contraction or the beating of the heart facilitates the flow of oxygen-rich blood to the various parts of the body. Under normal circumstances, the heart beats about 60 to 100 times per minute. This is made possible by the rhythmical discharge of electrical impulses. Whenever irregularities in the discharge of electrical impulses arise from the atria or the ventricles, the heart starts beating in an abnormal manner. Such a heart rhythm disorder is medically referred to as arrhythmia. In severe cases, electrical disturbances can even disrupt the pumping mechanism of the heart and lead to a cardiac arrest. An automated external defibrillator (AED) is a device that is used for correcting the irregularities in the discharge of electrical impulses. It helps in preventing cardiac arrest from turning into a life-threatening situation. While doctors and nurses know how to use a defibrillator to restore a heartbeat, others can undergo basic training to understand how this device should be used. This can help you save the life of a person having a cardiac arrest. Given below is some information on how and when should you use a defibrillator.

When to Use a Defibrillator

A defibrillator is a device that helps in restoring the normal heart rhythm. Doctors are obviously equipped with the knowledge regarding the use of a defibrillator, but when there isn’t enough time to take the person to a hospital, knowing how to use this device on someone having a sudden cardiac arrest, can definitely prove life-saving. If anyone in your family is suffering from cardiac arrhythmia, it would be worthwhile to equip yourself with information on the usage of this device. Doctors and nurses are trained to use manual defibrillators, but for a layman, using an automated external defibrillator is the best option. So, when should one use a defibrillator? A defibrillator must be used on a person only if he/she is having a cardiac arrest. Under these circumstances, the patient loses consciousness and becomes unresponsive. If the patient doesn’t seem to be breathing and doesn’t have a detectable pulse, then you must quickly use an AED. Performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) along with the use of this device within five minutes will definitely increase the patient’s chance of survival. Remember that this device must not be used on a patient who is still breathing or has a pulse. One must also make sure that pediatric chest pads are used if the patient is below the age of 12 years.

How to Operate a Defibrillator

An automated external defibrillator is a very useful device that delivers an electric shock to the heart so as to restore the heart rhythm. Since it gives voice commands, it is not difficult to operate. One must however, follow the instructions properly. Certain precautionary measures also need to be followed. One must ensure that the patient’s body is dry and that the patient is not wearing any metallic item while this device is used. You will see two adhesive electrode pads in this device. These must be applied on a bare chest. One of the adhesive pads must be placed on the upper right side of the chest while the other needs to be placed on the lower left section of the chest. Make sure that the pads are plugged into the connector. Once the device is switched on, the microprocessor will sense the heart rhythm of the person and advise the user whether administration of an electric shock is required or not.

While the heart rhythm is being checked, one must refrain from touching the patient. While some of the automated machines administer the shock automatically on sensing the need for a shock, some will give instructions on when to press the shock button. If the pulse is not detectable, use the device again. Even if the patient regains a pulse, leave the AED on and perform CPR until medical help arrives. If the patient has an internal pacemaker, make it a point not to place the pads on the top of the pacemaker or other battery-operated implant. Though this device is easy to use, it is advisable that you undergo proper defibrillator training. In severe cases of ventricular fibrillation, doctors often recommend the use of a defibrillator implant, but if such an implant has not been placed on the body, using an AED is one of the best option.

Timely use of CPR and an AED can certainly improve the chances of survival of a person having a cardiac arrest. Though an AED is an easy-to-use device which gives comprehensive voice commands on how one should operate a defibrillator, it would be better to undergo training before you use this device. If you happen to spot someone having a cardiac arrest and you have access to this device, let the patient benefit from your defibrillator training. Make an attempt to save the patient’s life before it is too late.