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What does an AED do?

The automated external defibrillator is a portable, electronic medical device that was designed to allow minimally trained people to provide lifesaving defibrillation to victims of sudden cardiac arrest. When electrodes are attached to the chest of a cardiac arrest victim, the AED immediately analyzes the heart to check for cardiac arrhythmias including Ventricular Tachycardia (V-Tach) and Ventricular Fibrillation (V-Fib). In these two states, the heart acts erratically and cannot the necessary blood to the brain and extremities of the body.

When the AED detects one of these cardiac arrhythmias, it send a shock between 150 and 360 Joules through the chest to the heart. The shock depolarizes the heart major muscles and eliminates the fatal arrythmia by stopping the heart. The heart then resets its natural pacemaker and begins to beat normally again. 

When it comes to sudden cardiac arrest, timing is of the essence. The American Heart Association’s Chain of Survival lists 4 steps that must happen in less than 5 minutes for a victim of sudden cardiac arrest to survive the event, and one piece of this chain requires “early defibrillation”. Without early defibrillation, a victim of SCA will not survive.

Timing is Everything – courtesy of the American Heart Association


To provide the best opportunity for survival, each of these four links must be put into motion within the first few minutes of SCA onset:

  • Early Access to Emergency Care must be provided by calling 911.
  • Early CPR should be started and maintained until emergency medical services (EMS) arrive.
  • Early Defibrillation is the only one that can re-start the heart function of a person with ventricular fibrillation (VF). If an automated external defibrillator (AED) is available, a trained operator should administer defibrillation as quickly as possible until EMS personnel arrive.
  • Early Advanced Care, the final link, can then be administered as needed by EMS personnel.


When each link in the chain works successfully, the chance of surviving SCA increases greatly.

Time After the
Onset of Attack

Survival Chances

With every minute

Chances are reduced by 7-10%

Within 4-6 minutes

Brain damage and permanent death start to occur

After 10 minutes

Few attempts at resuscitation succeed



  • A person collapses and is not breathing.
  • A bystander calls 911 and begins basic CPR.


Optimal next step:

  • AED is located on the premises
  • Someone knows that an AED is on the premises and runs to get it.
  • The AED is opened and pads are placed on the victim’s bare chest.
  • The AED communicates with the user both audibly and visually, gives CPR feedback, and analyzes the victim’s heart rhythm. If a shock is advised, the AED automatically delivers the shock to the victim’s heart which resets the heart rhythm and allows the SCA victim’s heart to start pumping blood again.
  • All of this happens within 5 minutes of the victim collapsing.
  • EMS arrives to continue early advanced care for victim who has survived the SCA event.


By default – next step:

  • There is no AED on the premises and the victim must wait for EMS to arrive with an AED.
  • This must happen within 5 minutes of the victim collapsing.
  • Continuing to perform CPR is advised, but without an AED to shock the heart, the victim will not survive more than 5 minutes.
  • It is estimated that 95% of all out of hospital sudden cardiac arrest (OCHA) victims die before they received any source of emergency help.


The value of having an AED on the premises cannot be overstated.

The Zoll AED Plus is one of several excellent AEDs available today. The following pictures and information will explain this specific device, however, all AEDs are based on the same basic technology, with various specific features that can be tailored to the setting the AED will be in.

Size: H x W x D – 5.25” x 9.50” x 11.50”

Weight: 6.7 lbs

Batteries: replaceable 123 Lithium

Device Classification: Class II

The Zoll AED Plus CPR-D padz is a one size fits all one piece electrode that can accommodate the wide range of patients sizes and shapes, and is extremely simple to use while in what can be a stressful rescue mode. This one piece design enables the user to quickly get the pads placed by using the easily remembered CPR landmark (the sternum) as the key placement cue. In addition, the CPR-D pads actually provide REAL CPR assistance with feedback on CPR compression depth and rate. This feature is very beneficial to minimally trained people who may find themselves suddenly in a situation of providing lifesaving care to a victim of cardiac arrest.

Once opened, with electrodes placed on the victim’s check, the AED gives a shock to reset the heart for 2 of the most common rhythms causing heart issues (pulseless ventricular tachycardia (VT) and ventricular fibrillation (VT or V-Fib).

The pads are placed so that the device can send a shock through the chest into the heart, and thereby resetting the heart rhythm.

Insert Picture of Zoll AED being used on victim.


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