Comprehensive Guide to Automated External Defibrillators (AED)

An AED trainer using an AED on a mannequin for training purposes

AED has become increasingly important in recent years as a life-saving device during sudden cardiac arrest. These portable medical devices are designed to treat abnormal heart rhythms, restoring the heart to its normal rhythm through defibrillation. However, many people may not fully understand what an AED is or how it works. This article aims to provide a comprehensive overview of AEDs, including their history, components, how they work, and when and where to use them.

What is AED?

In medical terms, an AED or Automated External Defibrillator is a portable electronic device that is designed to diagnose and treat cardiac arrhythmias such as ventricular fibrillation and ventricular tachycardia. AED works by delivering a controlled electrical shock to the heart, which can help to restore normal heart rhythm. They are easy to operate and come equipped with step-by-step instructions and voice prompts to guide the user through the process. They are commonly found in public places such as airports, shopping centers, and schools and can be used by anyone, regardless of medical training. In a medical emergency situation, an AED can be a crucial tool in saving someone's life by providing immediate intervention to treat a cardiac arrest.


What is the role of AEDs in emergency medical services and healthcare?

AEDs play a critical role in emergency medical services and healthcare by providing rapid defibrillation to individuals experiencing sudden cardiac arrest. AEDs are often integrated into the emergency response system through dispatch and communication, allowing for the quick identification and location of AEDs in the vicinity of an emergency.

In healthcare settings, AEDs are often used in conjunction with other medical equipment and procedures to provide comprehensive care to patients in cardiac arrest. For example, hospitals may have AEDs readily available in key locations such as emergency departments, intensive care units, and cardiac catheterization labs.

Monitoring and evaluating the outcomes and effectiveness of AED use in healthcare is critical to improving patient outcomes and optimizing resource utilization. Healthcare systems may use a variety of metrics to evaluate AED use, including response times, survival rates, and patient outcomes. This information can then be used to identify areas for improvement and develop targeted interventions to optimize AED use and patient care.


What are the Components of an AED?

An AED consists of several essential components that work together to diagnose and treat sudden cardiac arrest. These components include the battery, electrodes, and control panel.

  • Battery: The battery is the power source of the AED. It is designed to provide enough energy to deliver a shock when needed. The battery is typically located inside the AED and needs to be charged or replaced periodically to ensure the device is always ready for use.
  • Control Panel: The control panel is the user interface of the AED. It is typically located on the top of the device and includes a screen, buttons, and audio prompts. The control panel guides the user through the steps of administering a shock, including placing the electrodes on the patient's chest, analyzing the heart rhythm, and delivering the shock if needed.
Parts of AED


  • Electrodes: The electrodes are small adhesive pads that are attached to the chest of the patient. They play a crucial role in detecting the heart rhythm and delivering an electric shock to restore a normal heartbeat. The electrodes are connected to the AED by wires, and the AED uses them to analyze the patient's heart rhythm and determine whether a shock is necessary.


How to place AED pads correctly?

The recommended placement of AED pads is as follows:

  1. One pad should be placed on the upper right side of the chest, just below the collarbone
  2. The second pad should be placed on the left side of the chest, just below the armpit
  3. The pads should be placed on bare skin, avoiding any clothing or jewelry that may interfere with the electrical current


Some AED models may include additional features or accessories to make the device easier to use or more effective. For example, some AEDs may provide CPR feedback, which guides the user through the process of performing chest compressions and rescue breaths. Others may have voice prompts that guide the user through the steps of administering a shock. Some AEDs may also have built-in data recording capabilities, which allow the device to record information about the patient's heart rhythm and the treatment administered.

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How does an AED work?

An Automated External Defibrillator works by delivering an electric shock to the heart in cases of sudden cardiac arrest. When the heart goes into a life-threatening rhythm such as ventricular fibrillation (VF) or pulseless ventricular tachycardia (VT), the AED can analyze the heart rhythm and determine if a shock is needed to restore a normal heartbeat.

The optimal time frame for delivering defibrillation is within the first few minutes of sudden cardiac arrest. This is because the longer the heart is in a state of ventricular fibrillation, the less likely it is to respond to defibrillation. In fact, every minute of delay in defibrillation reduces the chances of survival by about 10%. Therefore, it is critical to quickly identify and treat sudden cardiac arrest with an AED as soon as possible.

For this reason, it is crucial to call emergency medical services (EMS) and start CPR immediately if a person is unresponsive and not breathing normally. AEDs can be found in many public places, such as airports, shopping centers, and public transportation stations. By using an AED as soon as possible, bystanders can help improve survival rates for SCA victims.

In 2016, Roger L. Page, a professor of medicine at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, conducted a study that analyzed 2.3 million flights and found that AEDs were used in 71 incidents. This means that AEDs were applied in 1 out of every 32,000 flights. Out of the 71 incidents, 36 passengers received AEDs, and 25 of them survived to hospital discharge. The authors of the study note that this survival rate is higher than the overall survival rate for out-of-hospital cardiac arrest, which is estimated to be approximately 10 percent.


What is CPR, and how is it performed in conjunction with an AED?

CPR, or cardiopulmonary resuscitation, is an emergency procedure that is performed to manually preserve brain function until further medical treatment can be provided. CPR involves manually compressing the chest and providing rescue breaths to maintain blood circulation and oxygenation in the body. CPR can be performed in conjunction with the use of an AED to enhance the chances of survival for someone experiencing sudden cardiac arrest.

AEDs can assist with CPR by providing prompts and feedback on the timing and quality of chest compressions, as well as by delivering a shock to restore the heart's normal rhythm if needed. When used in conjunction with CPR, AEDs can greatly enhance the chances of survival for someone experiencing sudden cardiac arrest.


How to Use an AED?

Here are the general steps involved in using an AED:

  1. Turn on the AED: Press the power button to turn on the device.
  2. Attach the electrode pads: Peel off the protective backing of the electrode pads and attach them to the patient's bare chest as indicated by the AED.
  3. Analyze the heart rhythm: The AED will analyze the patient's heart rhythm through the electrode pads to determine if a shock is needed.
  4. Clear the patient: If a shock is advised, make sure that no one is touching the patient or is in contact with any conductive material before delivering the shock.
  5. Deliver the shock: Press the shock button when instructed by the AED. The device will deliver the shock to the patient's heart to restore a normal heartbeat.
  6. Perform CPR: If no shock is advised, the AED may prompt you to begin cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) instead. Follow the AED prompts to perform CPR until emergency responders arrive.
  7. Continue following AED prompts: The AED will continue to provide voice prompts and display messages to guide you through the steps of administering care until emergency responders arrive.


Why Having AED is Important?

Having Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) available in public places plays a crucial role in improving the survival rates of individuals suffering from sudden cardiac arrest (SCA). SCA is a medical emergency where the heart abruptly stops beating, leading to loss of consciousness and cessation of breathing. It can occur unexpectedly to anyone, anywhere, at any time, and is one of the major causes of mortality worldwide.

AEDs are important because they are designed to be easy to use, even by untrained bystanders, and can help save lives in an emergency. They can analyze the heart rhythm, determine if a shock is needed, and deliver a shock to restore a normal heart rhythm. By using an AED as soon as possible, bystanders can help improve survival rates for cardiac arrest victims.


History of AEDs and their Development

The development of Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) has been a significant milestone in the history of medical technology, revolutionizing the treatment of sudden cardiac arrest (SCA).


  • The first successful defibrillation of a human heart was performed in 1899 by Dr. Jean-Louis Prévost and Frédéric Batelli, using a direct current shock to restore the heart rhythm.
  • In the mid-twentieth century, the first external defibrillator was developed by Dr. Claude Beck, which used paddles placed directly on the chest to deliver a shock.
  • In the 1950s, Dr. Paul Zoll developed the first portable defibrillator, which was battery-powered and could be carried by hand. This allowed defibrillation to be performed outside of a hospital setting, improving the chances of survival for patients with SCA.
  • In the 1960s, the first implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) was developed by Dr. Michel Mirowski and Dr. Morton Mower, which was implanted in the chest to deliver electrical shocks directly to the heart.
  • In the 1980s, semi-automatic external defibrillators were developed, which used voice prompts to guide users through the process of administering a shock.


This marked a significant improvement in the accessibility of defibrillation technology, making it possible for individuals without specialized medical training to use the device. However, these early models were still relatively bulky and expensive, making widespread deployment difficult.

Today, AEDs are considered an essential tool in the treatment of SCA. The widespread availability of AEDs has been credited with improving survival rates for individuals who experience SCA outside of a hospital setting, highlighting the importance of ongoing research and development in this field.

Types of AED

What are the different types of AED?

There are several different types of AEDs available, each with its own unique features and functionality. Some of the most common types of AEDs include:

  • Fully automatic AEDs: Fully automatic AEDs are designed to be simple and easy to use, with no need for the operator to press a shock button. Instead, the device will analyze the heart rhythm and deliver a shock if necessary.
  • Semi-automatic AEDs: Semi-automatic AEDs require the operator to press a shock button if the device determines that a shock is needed.
  • Pediatric AEDs: Pediatric AEDs are designed specifically for use on children and infants, with smaller electrode pads and lower energy settings.
  • Professional AEDs: Professional AEDs are typically used by healthcare professionals in clinical settings and offer more advanced features such as manual defibrillation and the ability to monitor the patient's heart rhythm.
  • Wearable AEDs: Wearable AEDs are small, lightweight devices that can be worn on the body and used to provide immediate defibrillation in case of sudden cardiac arrest.


In terms of functionality, AEDs can differ in their ability to analyze heart rhythms, deliver shocks, and provide feedback to the operator. Some AEDs offer real-time CPR feedback, which can help the operator perform effective chest compressions. Others may include voice prompts or visual displays to guide the operator through the resuscitation process. AEDs can also differ in terms of battery life, durability, and ease of maintenance. It is important to consider the specific needs of the organization or individual when selecting an AED to ensure that it meets their requirements.

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When to use an AED?

Recognizing the signs and symptoms of cardiac arrest is crucial in determining when to use an AED. Cardiac arrest occurs when the heart suddenly stops beating, resulting in inadequate blood supply to vital organs, including the brain. This can lead to unconsciousness, breathing difficulties, and, ultimately, death.


Some common signs and symptoms of cardiac arrest include:

  • Sudden collapse or loss of consciousness
  • Absence of breathing or abnormal breathing
  • Absence of pulse or weak pulse
  • Chest pain or discomfort


If someone is displaying these symptoms, it is important to act quickly and call for emergency medical assistance. Early defibrillation with an AED is a crucial component of treating cardiac arrest and improving survival rates.

The use of an AED should not be delayed or withheld in any circumstances, as early defibrillation is critical in treating cardiac arrest. In fact, for every minute that passes without defibrillation, the chance of survival decreases by 7-10%.


What is the difference between sudden cardiac arrest and a heart attack?

Sudden cardiac arrest and a heart attack are two different medical conditions that are related to the heart but have distinct causes and symptoms.

A heart attack, also known as a myocardial infarction (MI), occurs when there is a blockage in one or more of the coronary arteries, which supply blood to the heart muscle. The blockage usually occurs due to the buildup of plaque, which can break off and form a blood clot, causing a sudden interruption of blood flow to the heart muscle. This can result in chest pain or discomfort, shortness of breath, and other symptoms. A heart attack can damage the heart muscle and lead to complications such as heart failure.

On the other hand, sudden cardiac arrest occurs when the heart's electrical system malfunctions, causing an irregular and rapid heartbeat (ventricular fibrillation) or a complete cessation of the heartbeat (asystole). This can cause a sudden loss of consciousness and cessation of breathing, and it can be fatal within minutes if not treated promptly. SCA can occur without any warning signs or symptoms and can affect people with or without a history of heart disease.


How effective are AEDs in treating sudden cardiac arrest?

AEDs have been shown to be highly effective in treating sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) when used promptly and appropriately. According to the American Heart Association, early defibrillation with an AED can improve the chances of survival from SCA by up to 60% or more.

The evidence base for the use of AEDs in SCA has been well-established through numerous clinical trials and studies over the past few decades. These studies have consistently shown that AEDs can significantly increase survival rates when used within the first few minutes after cardiac arrest.

Several factors can influence the success rate of AEDs, including time to defibrillation, bystander response, and the presence of comorbidities. The more quickly an AED is used after SCA occurs, the better the chances of survival. Bystander response is also crucial, as early CPR and AED use by someone nearby can increase the chances of survival. Comorbidities, such as advanced age or pre-existing heart conditions, can also affect the success rate of AEDs.


What are the current challenges and opportunities for improving the effectiveness and accessibility of AEDs?

Despite the effectiveness of AED, there are still challenges to improving the accessibility and use of AEDs. One challenge is ensuring that AEDs are available in public places where SCA is most likely to occur, such as airports, schools, and sports facilities. Additionally, there is a need for continued public education to promote awareness of AEDs and encourage bystander response. Technology advancements, such as the development of smaller and more affordable AEDs, can also help increase accessibility. Policy changes, such as laws requiring AEDs in certain settings, can also help improve the effectiveness and accessibility of AEDs.

These current challenges and opportunities were discussed in a recent article by Amir Amjadi, MD, PhD, "entitled "Opportunities and Challenges for Improving Automated External Defibrillator Design and Deployment," The authors examine several challenges in the current design and deployment of AEDs, including limited accessibility and availability, lack of public awareness and education about their use, and potential safety concerns. Additionally, some AEDs may not be properly maintained, calibrated, or tested regularly, which can reduce their effectiveness and reliability.

The authors call for increased collaboration among stakeholders, including device manufacturers, public health officials, and emergency medical services, to develop and implement effective strategies for improving AED design and deployment.

AED are becoming available in public places


Where to find AEDs?

AEDs are becoming increasingly available in public places to provide quick access to life-saving technology. Here are some public places where you may find an AED:


  1. Airports: AEDs are typically located throughout airports, including boarding gates, baggage claim areas, and other high-traffic locations. They are often marked with signs and can be accessed in an emergency by notifying airport staff or calling for medical assistance.
  2. Schools: Many schools, both public and private, have installed AEDs in prominent locations, such as gymnasiums, auditoriums, and main entrances. School staff and security personnel are often trained to use AEDs in emergency situations.
  3. Sports Facilities: Gyms, fitness centers, and other sports facilities often have AEDs available in case of sudden cardiac arrest. They are often located near the main entrance or in the workout area and can be accessed by notifying staff or calling for medical assistance.
  4. Public Buildings: Many public buildings, such as libraries, community centers, and government buildings, are equipped with AEDs. They are often located in easily accessible areas, such as lobbies or reception areas.
  5. Public Transit: Some public transit systems, such as buses and trains, have AEDs available for emergencies. They may be located in a designated area on the vehicle, and staff or fellow passengers can assist in accessing the AED in an emergency.


Who can use an AED?

One of the key advantages of AEDs is that they can be used by almost anyone, regardless of medical training or experience. In fact, studies have shown that AEDs are effective when used by laypeople with minimal training, making them an important tool in improving survival rates from sudden cardiac arrest.

The AED devices are designed to be user-friendly, with simple instructions, and voice prompts that guide the user through each step of the process. Some organizations, such as schools or sports teams, may provide training in the use of AEDs as part of their emergency response plans, but this is not required by law.

In terms of legal considerations and liability issues, most states have laws that protect lay rescuers who use an AED in good faith to assist someone in cardiac arrest. These laws are known as "Good Samaritan" laws and vary by state, so it is important to be familiar with the laws in your area.


What are the Limitations of AED use?

While AEDs are highly effective in treating sudden cardiac arrest, there are certain limitations to their use. Here are some of the situations where AEDs may not be effective or may be contraindicated:


  1. Non-cardiac arrest rhythms: AEDs are designed to treat ventricular fibrillation and pulseless ventricular tachycardia, which are two specific types of cardiac arrest rhythms. They are not effective for treating other types of heart rhythms, such as asystole or pulseless electrical activity.
  2. Low energy levels: AEDs use a specific level of energy to deliver a shock, which may not be effective for patients who require a higher energy level. In these cases, a manual defibrillator may be necessary.
  3. Obstructed chest: AEDs require clear access to the chest in order to attach the electrodes and deliver a shock. If the chest is obstructed by clothing, jewelry, or other objects, the AED may not be effective.
  4. Wet or moist conditions: AEDs should not be used in wet or moist conditions, such as in a swimming pool or during a thunderstorm. Water can interfere with the electrical shock and may pose a risk to the rescuer.
  5. Age and size limitations: Some AEDs may not be suitable for use on infants or small children, as the energy level may be too high for their size. Special pediatric pads may be required for use in these cases.


Potential risks or adverse events associated with AED use are generally rare. Some possible risks may include skin irritation or burns from the electrode pads, or injury to the patient if the shock is delivered incorrectly. However, these risks are generally outweighed by the potential benefits of early defibrillation in treating sudden cardiac arrest.


Why AED Training and Certification is Important?

AEDs are an essential tool for treating sudden cardiac arrest, but their effectiveness relies heavily on the proper use and maintenance of the device. That's why AED training and certification are critical for anyone who may be in a position to use an AED in an emergency situation.

AED training typically covers the basics of using an AED, including how to recognize the signs of sudden cardiac arrest, how to correctly place and use the electrodes, and how to interpret the AED prompts and respond accordingly. The training may also cover CPR techniques and other first aid skills.

Being properly trained in the use of an AED can have a significant impact on saving lives in emergency situations. Studies have shown that bystanders who are trained in the use of AEDs are more likely to use them in a timely and effective manner, leading to better outcomes for the person in cardiac arrest.

In addition to the potential life-saving benefits, AED training and certification can also provide peace of mind for individuals and organizations that have AEDs on hand. It can help ensure that the AED is being used appropriately and reduce the risk of liability issues that could arise from improper use or maintenance of the portable device.


Who needs AED training?

AED training is essential for anyone who may be called upon to respond to a sudden cardiac arrest. While some professions, such as healthcare providers, may require more advanced training, basic AED training is important for everyone. Let's take a look at some of the different groups that would benefit from AED training:

  1. General public: The general public should receive AED training because sudden cardiac arrest can happen to anyone, anytime, anywhere. It is important for people to know how to recognize the signs and symptoms of cardiac arrest and how to respond quickly and effectively with an AED. With proper training, anyone can learn how to use an AED and potentially save a life.
  2. Workplace: Workplaces should provide AED training to their employees because sudden cardiac arrest can happen in the workplace. Having trained employees who know how to respond in an emergency can save lives. It is also important for workplaces to have accessible AEDs in case of an emergency. Basic AED training can help employees respond quickly and effectively.
  3. Healthcare professionals: Healthcare professionals need AED training because they may be called upon to respond to a cardiac arrest in a clinical setting. Advanced AED training, such as BLS certification, is often required for healthcare professionals. With advanced training, healthcare professionals can provide the best possible care for their patients.
  4. Community groups: Community groups, such as sports teams or youth organizations, can benefit from AED training. Having trained individuals in these groups can help ensure the safety of participants. AED training can also help create a culture of preparedness and safety within the community.


What are the Different Types of AED training courses?

There are several types of AED training courses available, each with its own specific focus and target audience. Below are some of the most common types of AED training courses:

  • CPR/AED Training: This type of training provides training on both CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) and AED use. It is designed for the general public and aims to teach individuals how to respond to a sudden cardiac arrest emergency, including how to perform CPR and how to use an AED.
  • Basic Life Support (BLS) Training: BLS training is intended for healthcare professionals and covers a range of life-saving skills, including CPR and AED use. It provides in-depth instruction on how to respond to cardiac arrest emergencies in the health care setting and is often required for certain healthcare professions.
  • Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support (ACLS) Training: ACLS training is a more advanced course that is also intended for healthcare professionals. It provides in-depth instruction on the management of cardiac arrest, including advanced airway management and drug therapy.
  • Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS) Training: PALS training is similar to ACLS training, but focuses specifically on the management of cardiac arrest in children.
  • AED Training for First Responders: This type of training is designed for individuals who may be the first to respond to a cardiac arrest emergency, such as police officers, firefighters, and EMS personnel. It provides instruction on how to quickly and effectively respond to a cardiac arrest emergency and use an AED.


When deciding which type of AED training course to take, it is important to consider your specific needs and goals. For example, if you are a healthcare professional, you may need to take BLS or ACLS training to meet certification requirements. If you are a member of a community organization or sports team, CPR/AED training may be more appropriate.


What are the AED certification requirements?

AED certification requirements may vary depending on the specific workplace or industry. For example, healthcare professionals may be required to complete advanced AED training. You must complete an AED training course that is approved by a recognized certification body. The certification requirements may vary depending on the country or region, but some common certification bodies include the American Heart Association (AHA) and the American Red Cross.

Once you have completed the certification course, you may be required to take an exam to test your knowledge in AED. Some certification bodies also require individuals to complete ongoing training and continuing education to maintain their certification.

Where can AEDs be purchased or rented?

AEDs can be purchased or rented from various sources, including medical equipment suppliers, online retailers, and AED manufacturers. Many organizations that provide AED training also offer AED sales and rentals as part of their services. Additionally, some states or local governments may have programs in place to provide AEDs to public places or offer discounts on AED purchases.


What factors should be considered when selecting an AED?

When selecting an AED, there are several factors to consider, including:

  1. Cost: AEDs can range in price from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars, depending on the features and capabilities of the device. It's important to evaluate the cost of an AED against the budget available, as well as consider the ongoing costs of maintenance and replacement of components.
  2. Ease of use: AEDs are designed to be simple and easy to use, even for individuals with no medical training. Look for a device that has clear instructions and visual prompts to guide the user through each step of the process.
  3. Durability: AEDs are often used in harsh environments or during extreme weather conditions, so it's important to choose a device that is built to withstand these challenges. Look for a device that is sturdy, waterproof, and able to withstand rough handling.
  4. Maintenance requirements: AEDs require regular maintenance to ensure they are in good working order and ready for use in an emergency situation. Consider the maintenance requirements of the device, including how often it needs to be checked, serviced, and calibrated.
  5. Training and support: It's important to choose an AED that comes with comprehensive training and support resources, including user manuals, instructional videos, and customer support. Look for a device that includes training materials or offers training options to ensure users are confident and prepared to use the device in an emergency.
  6. Features: AEDs may include additional features, such as CPR feedback, voice prompts in multiple languages, and the ability to store and transmit data. Consider the specific needs of the environment where the device will be used and evaluate whether these features are necessary or beneficial.
  7. Compatibility: Some AEDs may be more compatible with certain types of batteries, pads, or accessories than others. Evaluate the compatibility of the device with other equipment and supplies to ensure they can be easily integrated into existing systems.


By considering these factors, individuals and organizations can make an informed decision when selecting an AED that meets their specific needs and budget. It's important to remember that having any AED available in an emergency situation can greatly increase the chances of survival, so even a basic and affordable device can make a significant impact.


What are the maintenance and care requirements for AEDs?

Proper maintenance and care are essential to ensure that AEDs are in good working order and ready to use when needed. By following the manufacturer's guidelines for maintenance and care, AED owners can help prolong the life of their device and improve its performance in an emergency. The following are some important factors to consider when maintaining an AED:

  1. Regular inspections: AEDs should be inspected regularly to ensure they are in good working order. This includes checking the condition of the electrodes, cables, and battery. Most manufacturers recommend monthly inspections.
  2. Battery replacement: The battery is a crucial component of the AED, and it needs to be replaced periodically. AED batteries typically last between two and five years, depending on the manufacturer and model. It's important to keep track of the battery's expiration date and replace it before it expires.
  3. Electrode replacement: The electrodes are another important component of the AED, and they also need to be replaced periodically. The lifespan of the electrodes varies by manufacturer and model, but most need to be replaced every two to three years.
  4. Software updates: AED manufacturers release software updates periodically to address bugs, improve functionality, and ensure compatibility with new technologies. It's important to check for and install updates regularly to keep the AED up to date.
  5. Storage and transportation: AEDs should be stored in a cool, dry place to prevent damage to the device. Some manufacturers recommend storing AEDs in a carrying case to protect them during transportation. AEDs should not be exposed to extreme temperatures or humidity, and they should not be stored near magnetic fields.
  6. User manuals and training: It's important to read the AED user manual and receive proper training on AED maintenance and care. Most AED manufacturers provide user manuals and training resources on their websites. Ongoing training and education can help ensure that AEDs are adequately maintained and used effectively in an emergency.


What are the common troubleshooting issues with AEDs?

Common troubleshooting issues with AEDs include:

  • Error messages: AEDs may display error messages that indicate a problem with the device. Common error messages include "check electrode pads" or "check battery." If an error message appears, check the corresponding component and follow the AED's instructions for resolving the issue.
  • Battery issues: AED batteries can lose their charge over time, which can affect the device's performance. If the battery is low or dead, the AED may not work when needed. To avoid battery issues, make sure to follow the manufacturer's recommendations for battery replacement and storage.
  • Electrode issues: Electrode pads can dry out or become damaged, which can affect their ability to deliver a shock. Make sure to check the expiration date of the electrode pads and replace them when necessary. Also, be sure to store the electrode pads appropriately to prevent damage.
  • Software issues: AEDs may have software issues that affect their performance. If the AED is not functioning well, check for software updates and make sure the device is running the latest version.
An AED trainer using an AED on a mannequin for training purposes

What are the Guidelines and Regulations for AEDs?

AEDs are regulated by various organizations and agencies to ensure their safety and effectiveness in different settings. The guidelines and regulations for the use of AEDs vary depending on the jurisdiction, the type of setting, and the intended users of the device. Here are some of the key considerations:


Legal Requirements

Federal, state, and local jurisdictions have their own laws and regulations for AED installation, maintenance, and usage. These requirements may include guidelines for training and certification, equipment maintenance, medical oversight, and reporting of AED usage. For example, some jurisdictions may require that AEDs be registered with local authorities, or that they be placed in locations that are easily accessible to the public.


Recommended standards and certifications

Several organizations provide standards and certifications for AEDs and related equipment. These standards are designed to ensure that AEDs meet certain safety, reliability, and interoperability requirements. The most commonly recognized certifications are provided by the American Heart Association (AHA) and the International Liaison Committee on Resuscitation (ILCOR). The AHA recommends that AEDs meet the ANSI/AAMI/ISO 60601-2-4:2010 standard for safety and performance.


Guidelines for usage

Various organizations and agencies, including the American Heart Association, the American Red Cross, and the International Liaison Committee on Resuscitation, have established guidelines for AED usage. These guidelines are designed to provide a standardized approach to the use of AEDs in different settings and to promote best practices for AED usage. They cover topics such as AED placement, maintenance, and usage, as well as the importance of early CPR and defibrillation in improving outcomes for cardiac arrest patients.


Review and update the process.

The guidelines and regulations for AEDs are reviewed and updated periodically by various stakeholders, including medical professionals, manufacturers, regulatory agencies, and public health organizations. This review process is designed to ensure that the guidelines and regulations remain current and reflect the latest developments in AED technology and best practices for usage. Stakeholders and experts play an important role in this process, providing input and feedback on proposed changes to the guidelines and regulations. Ultimately, the goal is to ensure that AEDs continue to be effective tools for saving lives in different settings.

Are there any laws requiring the availability of AEDs in public places or workplaces?

Numerous jurisdictions have enacted laws or regulations mandating the presence of AEDs in specific public places and workplaces. These laws often include requirements for AED accessibility, proper maintenance, and employee training to ensure preparedness for cardiac emergencies.

How does an AED detect the need for a shock?

AEDs use advanced algorithms to analyze the electrical activity of the heart through adhesive electrode pads placed on the patient's chest. The device monitors the heart's rhythm and can identify abnormal patterns, particularly ventricular fibrillation (VF) or ventricular tachycardia (VT). If these life-threatening rhythms are detected, the AED prompts the user to administer a shock to restore a normal heart rhythm.

What is the cost of an AED, and are there funding options available for acquiring them?

AED prices vary based on brand, model, and features. Costs can range from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars. Funding options may include grants, community fundraising efforts, workplace safety initiatives, or government programs promoting AED placement in public spaces.

How effective are AEDs in saving lives during cardiac emergencies?

AEDs are highly effective in saving lives during cardiac emergencies, particularly when used promptly. The devices play a crucial role in restoring a normal heart rhythm, significantly improving the chances of survival.

Is it advisable to have an AED at home, and what are the considerations?

Having an AED at home can be advisable for individuals at higher risk of cardiac events. Considerations include proper training for household members, regular maintenance, consultation with healthcare professionals, and understanding when and how to use the AED appropriately.

How do individuals with heart conditions benefit from having an AED?

Individuals with heart conditions can benefit from having an AED at home as it provides a rapid response to a cardiac emergency. Immediate defibrillation can be crucial for those with known heart issues, potentially increasing the chances of survival and minimizing long-term damage. Regular consultation with healthcare providers is essential for personalized recommendations.

Are there any certifications required to use an AED?

While there might not be specific certifications solely for AED use, individuals are often encouraged to obtain basic life support or CPR certifications. These certifications encompass AED training, ensuring that individuals are equipped with the knowledge and skills needed to respond effectively during cardiac emergencies. Research indicates that alternative AED training methods, such as those involving lay instructors, self-directed learning, and brief training, show effectiveness. While evidence suggests that some individuals may not require training, even brief instruction can enhance the speed of shock delivery and electrode pad placement. Additionally, the features of AEDs play a significant role, emphasizing the need for further research to develop user-friendly and robust devices for untrained laypersons.

The recommendation extends to the implementation of cardiac emergency response plans (CERPs) in every school, ensuring that all students receive CPR and AED training before graduation. This approach aims to cultivate a community of individuals capable of responding to cardiac emergencies, thereby boosting bystander CPR/AED interventions and ultimately enhancing out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA) survival rates.

How is AED training incorporated into first aid and CPR courses?

AED training is an integral component of first aid and CPR courses. Participants learn how to assess a situation, perform CPR, and effectively use an AED. Training covers proper pad placement, following voice prompts, and understanding when to deliver a shock. Hands-on practice with AED simulators helps build confidence and ensures individuals are well-prepared to respond in real-life emergencies.


  • American Heart Association (AHA)
  • Opportunities and Challenges for Improving Automated External Defibrillator Design and Deployment
  • AED training and its impact on skill acquisition, retention and performance: Asystematic review of alternative training methods
  • CPR and AEDs save lives: insuring CPR--AED education and CPR--AED access in schools
  • Resuscitation with an AED: Putting the data to use