Are you wondering what are the different types of AEDs available? According to data, more than 356,000 Americans lose their lives each year to out-of-hospital cardiac arrest! That’s a staggering number on its own, but the numbers would be much higher if there were no automated external defibrillators (AEDs) to resuscitate a cardiac arrest victim.
AEDs are mobile, life-saving medical devices intended to better the medical condition of a person whose heart has unexpectedly stopped beating. Paired with CPR, these portable AEDs give patients the best chances of survival.
In general, AEDs come in two variants: an automatic and a semi-automatic one. Moreover, medical professionals will tell you that AEDs are divided into two additional categories: for public and professional use. To learn more about the distinctions and functionalities of each AED type, continue reading below.
What’s the Purpose of an Automatic External Defibrillator and What Different Types Are Available?
As we mentioned, AEDs are rescuer’s first aid to resuscitate and assist a person experiencing a sudden cardiac arrest. In essence, AEDs run on electrodes that automatically assess patients’ heart rates or untypical heart rhythms. When such an instance is detected, AEDs will signal to shock the patient and restore optimal heart rhythm.
In general, AEDs are used in SCA (Sudden Cardiac Arrest) cases to help with restoring the victim’s blood flow to the heart and other organs. That’s why understanding what are the different types of AEDs available is a good idea.
The Different Types of AEDs Available: The Basics
Essentially, AEDs come in two variants: semi-automatic AEDs and fully automatic AEDs. Moreover, there are automatic external defibrillators intended for layman’s use, known as home AEDs or public access AEDs, and those intended for professional use.
A semi-automatic AED is designed to detect a particular heart rhythm in patients. In addition, when an irregularity is detected, the device will prompt the user to administer a shock to a patient who has fallen into cardiac arrest.
AED handlers will need to push a button in the device to deliver the shock, hence, the semi-automatic mode.
In contrast to semi-automated AEDs, fully automatic AEDs don’t require human interference. Namely, once the device detects an irregularity in the cardiac rhythm, the software will automatically deliver a defibrillation shock without the need for human intervention.
The results are inconclusive regarding which one is better since professionals in different resuscitation areas use both variants. It all boils down to personal preference and whether the user wants the resuscitation process to be conveyed entirely by the machine. On the other hand, others prefer semi-automatic AEDs since they give them greater control.
Furthermore, people at risk of suffering a sudden cardiac arrest can wear and typically use fully automatic AEDs. These wearable AEDs are battery-powered devices with built-in defibrillators, worn as a vest resting directly against the skin.
Public Access AEDs
As the name suggests, public access AEDs are intended for the general public and are often visibly placed at community centers, schools, airports, hospitals, government establishments, and other public areas. These AEDs are designed for laypeople to use with basic first-aid training. Home AEDs are the same type of automated external defibrillators that every household can own and deliver basic first aid until an emergency team arrives.
The key difference between public access AEDs and professional AEDs is the location of the device and the level of training the handlers possess to operate the different types of devices.
Professionals that use AEDs include first responders like paramedics and emergency medical technicians (EMTs). In addition, firefighters, police officers, lifeguards, and so on also fall into the category of professionals that can use professional AEDs as part of their line of work.
The Upside of The Different Types of AEDs Available
As mentioned, AEDs are designed to detect irregular heartbeats and arrhythmia automatically. These devices are at the forefront of resuscitating a person that’s lost consciousness due to cardiac arrest. One of the many upsides of AEDs is that everyone can use them, even bystanders; hence, the benefit of having publicly accessible AEDs in various locations.
In a nutshell, an automated external defibrillator will enhance a victim’s survival rate and make it less likely for the person to suffer brain damage. When comparing AEDs to CPR, professionals agree that CPR alone is merely a stopgap until an EMT arrives; however, in combination with an AED, the method can double the chances of survival.
When to Use the Different AEDs Types
Whenever a life-threatening situation is developing before you, if there’s a publicly accessible AED, say, at the train station you currently find yourself at, you should undoubtedly use the AED if you are trained to do so.
Cardiac arrhythmias open the way to sudden cardiac arrest. Many are not aware that cardiac arrest differs from a heart attack. When it comes to irregular heart rhythms leading to cardiac arrest, use an AED to deal with the following situations:
- VT or V-Tach (Pulseless Ventricular tachycardia)
- And VF or V-Fib (Ventricular fibrillation)
AED Usage Requirements
As we elaborated, the particular design of the AEDs allow use by non-medical personnel in case of a medical emergency. Ideally, a person who handles an AED device should possess some level of first-aid training.
Nonetheless, U.S. schools provide CPR and first-aid training to prepare students and staff for an unfortunate medical emergency scenario. In such cases, tutors use semi-automatic, public access AEDs to show students and staff how to handle the device.
Before putting an AED to use, there should be no metal items on the patients. For example, the rescuer should remove underwire bras, body piercings, or any other metal items before shocking a patient.
Location and Availability of Different AED Types
Automated external defibrillators are typically placed in a clearly visible and adequately labeled spot so that first responders, bystanders, and medical professionals will easily access them. In public areas, mount publicly accessible AEDs on walls in a designated space that’s visually unrestricted. For example, regulations impose that public access AEDs are of bright colors and mounted inside protective cases close to the entrance of different facilities.
Easily accessible automatic AEDs are mandatory equipment in all restaurants, gyms, coffee shops, and other locations in the U.S. that have a high frequency of people. So, the facility staff and the guests at these places can also use the AED to jump to rescue a cardiac arrest victim.
When one removes the public access defibrillator from the casing, an alarm will sound, prompting those nearby of the AEDs removal. However, this does not mean that the EMTs will be alerted, nor that all of the AEDs will buzz. Those who have training in first aid know that right before using the AED, they should contact the emergency services for an ambulance to be dispatched.
When it comes to offering help to a person in need, people are hesitant to do it, and it’s so for a single reason — fear of liability. In the U.S. or anywhere else, people can get sued for extending their help without being asked to help.
Although it seems logical that people feel that way, the gravity of the situation concerning cardiac arrests does not allow for second thoughts and a thorough examination of the situation — every second counts, and every second without help is a second closer to fatalities.
In such cases, when bystanders are compelled (by themselves) to help a cardiac arrest victim on the street, they should know that the Good Samaritan laws shield them from liability. For instance, if someone collapses in front of you, but they are still conscious, introduce yourself and let them know you’ll help them. If they aren’t responsive, consent is implied.
Key Takeaway: What Are the Different Types of AEDs Available
With all said and done, we cannot imagine a world where AEDs didn’t exist. In combination with CPR, AEDs are the ultimate means to resuscitate a person who’s lost consciousness due to cardiac arrest.
These life-saving devices are designed to automatically shock a cardiac arrest victim and restore their cardiac rhythm. Whether AEDs are semi-automatic, fully automated, for public or professional use, these devices are irreplaceable medical gear that can save a person’s life in seconds.
Understanding how to use an AED correctly is easy, especially with so many online courses available today. If you want to be one of those conscious bystanders that jump to the rescue whenever someone flops to the ground, it won’t hurt to know some basic first aid and CPR first.
Sign up for some of the online CPR and AED courses and boost your confidence next time someone needs your help. Each second counts! Now you should have a good understanding of what are the different types of AEDs available.