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Automated External Defibrillator (AED) Toolbox Talk

In this toolbox talk, learn the importance of an AED device, as well as when and how to use one.

Automated External Defibrillator (AED) Safety Talk

Medical emergencies can happen at any given time on the jobsite. One of these medical emergencies is sudden cardiac arrest.

Many people confuse a heart attack with cardiac arrest, but they are different illnesses. A heart attack is when blood flow to the heart is blocked, while cardiac arrest is when the heart malfunctions and suddenly stops beating.

One life-saving device that can prevent death resulting from sudden cardiac arrest is an automated external defibrillator, or AED. In fact, AEDs save over 1,700 lives in the United States every year. That is why many workplaces, including construction sites, are starting to have AED devices on hand. In this toolbox talk, we will learn what an AED is as well as when and how to use one.

What is an AED?

An automated external defibrillator (AED) is a portable device that is used to help those experiencing sudden cardiac arrest.

There is a built-in computer inside the AED that analyzes an individual's heart rhythm through adhesive electrodes and, if necessary, delivers an electrical shock (also known as defibrillation) to the heart to help restore a heartbeat.

When to use an AED

An AED should only be used on a person if their heart suddenly stops beating or if they are experiencing sudden cardiac arrest. The symptoms of cardiac arrest are:

  1. No breathing

  2. Unresponsiveness

  3. Unconsciousness

  4. No pulse

If you have an individual who is showing these symptoms, you can use an AED to begin heart rhythms again.

Are AED devices safe to use?

Yes! Many people may be nervous to use an AED device, but AEDs are safe to use by anyone.

How to use an AED

All in all, an AED machine is pretty easy to use. However, all employees should still be properly trained from an institution like the Red Cross or the American Heart Association.

Here are some simple step-by-step instructions on how to use an AED:

  1. Always call 911 first when you see an individual who has collapsed and unresponsive. If other people are around, yell for someone to call.

  2. Grab the AED off the wall. Most are located in a common area with big lettering indicating the AED's location.

  3. Check the individual for a pulse, if no pulse is detected, turn on the AED.

  4. Make sure the individual's skin is dry and apply the electrodes to their chest as the directions indicate.

  5. The AED will pretty much do the work for you from there. It will specifically tell you if the individual needs the shock button to be pressed. Never press the button unless the AED device tells you to do so.

Special circumstances when using an AED

An AED is very simple to use, but there are some special circumstances to keep in mind. These tips can help you feel more comfortable and confident when you have a situation where you need to use it.

The patient has chest hair

If the patient has chest hair, you will need to shave the area quickly. There is usually a disposable razor located somewhere inside the case.

The patient has medical patches

Check the patient for any medication patches that they may be wearing. The ones that you should be most concerned about will be located where you need to place electrodes. Put gloves on your hands and remove any patches that are in that area.

The patient has a pacemaker

Look for noticeable signs of a pacemaker. A pacemaker will appear like a lump that is directly under the skin on the left side of their chest. You can still use an AED on individuals who have one, you just need to know where to place the electrodes. You want to stay one inch to the side of the pacemaker.

aed machine in workplace.

Other important information regarding an AED

It is important that all employees in the place of work know how to use the AED. You never know who is going to be present when an emergency arises.

Regular inspections of the AED should be conducted as well to make sure the device is always in good working order.

Here are some AED informational points to always remember:

  1. AED is very easy and self-explanatory to use. Just about anyone can use these machines with the guidance provided by the device itself. However, it is best to train all employees on the machine so there is no question when it comes time to use one in an emergency.

  2. There are flashing lights on the machine that indicate the state of the device. Everyone should know what the different color blinking lights mean on the machine. A green light indicates a healthy AED and a red light indicates that there is a problem.

  3. You should get about 2-4 years of battery life out of your AED.

  4. Always get the collapsed individual the emergency attention they need as quickly as possible. It has been reported that prompt use of a defibrillator increases the chances of survival by 90 percent. For every passing minute that goes by, the chances of the individual surviving lowers by 7-10 percent.

AED & first aid training

Many places of business require their employees to go through some type of first aid training. That way they can be somewhat knowledgeable about what to do in case of an emergency. Some workplaces will actually have an assigned person who is responsible for managing the response when an emergency occurs. Designating an individual to do so helps ensure there isn’t any confusion about who is calling 911 or who is getting the AED when needed.

First aid classes may be conducted at your place of work or at other locations. They usually consist of one day of learning and a test at the end to certify you.

First aid is good knowledge to have in the workplace to better protect yourself and your coworkers.

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