To prepare you for an emergency we’ll discuss how to choose the right AED for your needs. Automated external defibrillators (AED) are very important life-saving devices that need to be readily available to everyone who needs them. Unfortunately, AEDs are not as widespread as they probably should be yet, but their availability has definitely increased in recent years.
Apart from medical personnel, first responders, offices, restaurants, and other businesses, individuals are also investing in their own AEDs nowadays as statistics show that around 70% of all out-of-hospital cardiac arrests in the US occur in the home. By investing in a personal AED unit, you can ensure that you and your loved ones have extra security in an event of a sudden cardiac arrest.
However, many people struggle to choose the right automated external defibrillator for their needs. Let us help you do that by pointing out a few things you should look out for and providing you with enough information to make an informed decision.
What is an AED?
An AED is a machine that uses electrical shocks to restore normal heart rhythm in people who have suffered from sudden cardiac arrest. Heart failure can occur anywhere and at any time, and if it is not treated immediately by providing cardiopulmonary resuscitation and/or defibrillation it will most likely result in death in a matter of minutes. For this reason, having an automated external defibrillator on site can be crucial to the survival of the person experiencing the heart attack.
The AED is portable and lightweight which makes it easy to carry around and handle in emergencies. Automated external defibrillators are safe to use by anyone and 90% of the time are successful at detecting an irregular heartbeat that needs defibrillation.
Why Having an AED at Hand Is So Important?
A person can experience a sudden cardiac arrest at work, on the street, or at home which makes the widespread availability of automated external defibrillators extremely important. According to the American Heart Association, approximately 430,000 people die from cardiac arrest in the US, and around 350, 000 of those cases occur in an out-of-hospital setting where the only chance of survival lies in the hands of family members, friends, and bystanders.
In such cases, automated external defibrillators provide invaluable support to the responder, which is why if not every home, then every workplace, sports area or other public space should be First Aid ready and have an AED on site.
Things to Consider When Choosing an AED
Understanding how to choose the right AED for your needs can be confusing but important to know. Depending on whether you are choosing an automated external defibrillator for an office, another commercial space, or for home use there are a few things to consider before making an investment in an AED device.
Purchasing the automated external defibrillator is not the only expense you will encounter if you want to own this emergency equipment. Perpetual costs for maintenance and part replacement will drive the price up in the long run.
Typically, AED units cost anywhere between $1,400 to $3,000 and up. In addition to this, they need to undergo regular inspections to keep them in shape longer such as replacing batteries, pads, and cords, replacing damaged parts, and making various upgrades.
To ensure proper use, certain cities or areas may also require registration and certification which can add to the total expense of owning an AED.
The total cost will depend on the needs and available funds of the user. Certain institutions such as schools, youth centers, and recreational facilities may qualify for a grant or a donation accounting for their AED purchase.
Reliability is a major factor to think about when buying an automated external defibrillator. Make sure to research brands and units and assure they have been FDA approved before making a purchase.
The FDA – Food and Drug Administration issues a list of all approved AED units and accessories so people can check to see if their automated defibrillator follows current regulations.
Studies show that automated external defibrillators are almost always successful at diagnosing abnormalities in the heart rhythm, which goes to show that they are fairly reliable. In any case, you should make sure that your AED and all other accessories come from an authorized retailer to avoid purchasing a faulty or unreliable device.
Ease of Use
Defibrillators used in medical settings cannot be operated by just anyone, they require special training and education. However automated external defibrillators are made to be used by untrained bystanders which means that AEDs are by definition user-friendly.
That being said, some offer more ease of use, than others. When looking for an AED make sure to consider the size of the defibrillator, key functions such as auditory or visual instructions, availability of replacement parts, etc.
To understand how to choose the right AED for your needs, ask yourself the following questions:
- Can it easily be displayed in a visible location that allows easy access?
- Can it easily be carried from one place to another?
- Does it include clear and helpful instructions?
- Does it offer auditory guidance?
Automated defibrillators are configurated to read the victim’s heart rhythm and only provide an electrical shock if irregular heart function is detected. This makes them super easy to use because they do not require any human judgment when it comes to delivering the shock. Some even come with auditory clues that act like a metronome, to help you keep up with the recommended bpm when providing compressions.
Maintenance is a huge part of owning an automated external defibrillator this includes the maintenance of all parts of the AED – the body of the machine, its case, the battery, and the defibrillation pads. Batteries and pads need to be replaced as soon as they expire or after every use, other parts such as circuits need to be regularly inspected and maintained as well to preserve their function.
When it comes to pads there are generally two types. The first ones are made for adults and the other ones are pediatric, made specifically for children. When buying the device, consider the population that is more likely to need it. For example, children’s hospitals, daycares, and schools will need to have pediatric pads, whereas retirement homes and offices will most likely need adult pads. Or, to ensure ultimate safety, you can go for a package that includes both.
When it comes to batteries, different units use different types of batteries. Some may be rechargeable, but most are non-rechargeable. Again, use will determine the type of battery you should choose. If the AED unit is expected to be used more often, perhaps a rechargeable battery would be a better choice. This might be the right course of action for medical professionals and CPR instructors who use a defibrillator regularly.
On the other hand, if the AED is rarely used, a non-rechargeable battery may be a better option because of its long lifespan and low maintenance characteristics.
Proper emergency response requires confidence and skill. CPR and AED training will provide you with the confidence to take action in case anyone experiences a cardiac arrest in your presence.
Although it is not obligatory, AED training is advisable for everyone, especially those near an automated external defibrillator. So, if you plan on investing in an AED, make sure to consider investing in proper training as well.
When deciding on a manufacturer try to pick one that offers good customer support and timely maintenance service. Ensure replacement parts are always available and will not be an issue. For this reason, it is a smart idea to go for renowned brands that have been on the market for multiple years and can guarantee quality.
Although automated external defibrillators are great at restoring the normal heart rhythm, CPR is still needed for successful resuscitation in most cases. Many AED manufacturers incorporate CPR instructions into their models to provide the first responder with assistance while performing chest compressions.
In addition to auditory instructions guiding the person through each step, some of them have built-in sensors that provide feedback on the depth and rate of compressions and some even have real-time video displays that can show you precisely what to do.
Wrap Up: How to Choose the Right AED for Your Needs
Choosing the right automated defibrillator for your needs is not such an easy task because there are so many things to take into consideration such as who would be using the device. How often will it be used? How will the maintenance be handled? And, is the right AED affordable to you?
By carefully examining all of these aspects hopefully, you can make the right decision and contribute to your safety and the safety of your loved ones, as well as the community you live in. Now you should be prepared with this understanding of how to choose the right AED for your needs.