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Nothing Shall Be Impossible

Save a life: Learn to use an Automated External Defibrillator

Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) is a condition in which the heart suddenly and unexpectedly stops beating. When this happens, blood stops flowing to the brain and other vital organs.

SCA usually causes death if it’s not treated within minutes. In fact, for every minute of SCA, the chance of survival drops by 10 percent. Using an Automated External Defibrillator or AED on a person who is having SCA may save that person’s life. Use of an AED, combined with Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR), gives the victim the best chance for survival.

AEDs are portable devices that untrained bystanders can use to save the life of someone experiencing sudden cardiac arrest. The AED provides easy-to-follow verbal instructions to walk you through the process.

An AED works by checking heart rhythm and then, if needed, sending an electric shock to the heart to try to restore a normal rhythm.

Steps to perform CPR with an AED:

If the person is not breathing:

  • Call 9–1–1 or have someone else call 9–1–1.
  • Position the victim on his back.
    • Turn on the AED’s power. The device will give you step-by-step instructions. You’ll hear voice commands and see prompts on a screen.
    • Open the victim’s shirt and wipe the chest dry of sweat or water. Check for puddles or water near the person who is unconscious. Move him or her to a dry area, and stay away from wetness when delivering shocks.
  • Tilt head back and lift chin. Check for breathing for no more than 10 seconds.
  • If the victim is not breathing, give two (2) rescue breaths.
  • Check for signs of a heart beat. If you do not feel a beat, then the heart is not pumping.
  • Attach one pad to the victim’s upper right chest and one to the lower left side. The pads will be labeled with a picture of where they go.
  • Plug the wire from the pads into the AED if they are not already attached.
  • Make sure no one is touching the victim so the AED can analyze correctly.
  • Push the Analyze button or let the AED automatically begin its analysis. Wait for the analysis to complete.
  • If the AED determines a shock is required:
    • Keep everyone clear of the victim.
    • Press the shock button.
    • Let the AED reanalyze.
  • If the AED determines no shock is needed:
    • Check for a pulse.
    • If you cannot find a pulse and the victim is not breathing, perform CPR until the AED reanalyzes.
    • If there is a pulse but no breathing, then perform rescue breathing and make sure the breaths raise the chest.
    • If there is a pulse and breathing, place the victim in a recover position and monitor them until help arrives.

Once you have attached the AED to a victim, do not remove it. It will continue to analyze and if the victim lapses again, the AED will recommend a shock if needed. When Emergency Medical Services personnel are on the scene, they can remove it. 


About Saint Thomas Heart


Saint Thomas Heart is the cardiac division of Saint Thomas Health and includes the cardiology programs at Saint Thomas Midotwn Hospital, Saint Thomas Rutherford Hospital and Saint Thomas West Hospital. With approximately 60 cardiac specialists in more than 25 regional clinics throughout Middle Tennessee and Southern Kentucky and Tennessee’s largest network of accredited Chest Pain Centers, Saint Thomas Heart offers greater access and experience, seeing more patients than anyone in Tennessee. or

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