Levitt-Safety Blog

Common mistakes when using an AED (and how to avoid them)

Jonathan McCallumMarket Segment Manager: Occupational Health, Industrial Hygiene & Environmental MonitoringDecember 9, 2019

Sudden cardiac arrest can happen any time. The Heart and Stroke Foundation estimates that upwards of 45,000 Canadians die each year because of it. Survival rates fall between 7 and 10% for every minute that passes without defibrillation. That's why having an automated external defibrillator (AED) on-site is so important.

Reading this post could help you save a life.

Knowing how to use a defibrillator in the event of an emergency is crucial. While waiting to board a plane at the airport, a Manitoba man had a heart attack. A fast acting nurse grabbed the AED, started CPR and saved his life.

In this post, we'll identify common mistakes made when using a defibrillator and how to avoid them.

1. Improper AED storage

Your AED needs to be easy to access.

It should take you less than 3 minutes to retrieve the device — that’s 90 seconds each way.

Storing items on top or in front of the defibrillator slows you down when retrieving it.

Every second matters in these situations.

Placing the AED in a high traffic area is a good start. Placing your defibrillator in an easy-to-access wall cabinet is even better.

Zoll aed wall cabinet

2. AED instructions

If you’re setting an AED up in the event someone collapses, there will be a lot of adrenaline rushing through you.

It’s important to remain calm and focus on the instructions.

The average person with no medical training can use an AED because it uses audio and visual instructions.

From basic instructions like “call emergency services” to specifics like “remove the victim’s shirt and jewelry.”

You aren’t expected to be an AED master, but you need to follow its instructions.

3. CPR or AED

Knowing when to use an AED versus when to use CPR can be tricky.

Defibrillator manufacturer, Zoll, explains it this way:

Successful defibrillation must be supported with high-quality CPR. The AEDs first heart analysis is critical. If it calls for no shock, only high-quality CPR can lead to a shockable rhythm on the next heart analysis. If the first analysis does call for a shock, once it’s delivered, the stunned heart desperately needs blood as it tries to reorganize and regain its natural beat. Only high-quality CPR can supply a struggling heart with the oxygenated blood needed to restore a normal rhythm.

Many of the products in Zoll's line-up feature Real CPR Help. This technology gives you real-time feedback on the rate and the depth of your compression.

This means you can concentrate on saving a life and not humming The Bee-Gees 'Stayin' Alive' in your head.

4. Pad placement

If the pads are not properly placed, the AED will not send an electric shock to the victim.

As technology improves, this is becoming an easier mistake to avoid.

Zoll introduced an innovative solution to address this issue with the CPR-D pads for their AED Plus unit.

This one-piece pad means fast, accurate placement. It also includes a chest target that you can use for giving the most efficient CPR.

5. AED maintenance

Are you aware of the maintenance schedule for your AED?

zoll aed plus cpr-d padz

Check the manufacturer's website to see how often to replace batteries and pads.

Be aware of the dates and include AED maintenance in your monthly first aid checks. You can buy replacement pads and batteries here.

Be ready:

You cannot anticipate a situation where you're going to need to use an AED or perform CPR.

Being proactive and providing you and your staff with the proper training will go a long way in preparing for an emergency. The Canadian Red Cross and St. John Ambulance provide CPR & AED combination training for all skill levels.

Does your workplace have an AED?

Here are 5 reasons why you should.