How to Properly Use an AED: A Step-By-Step Guide

Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) are portable devices designed to deliver an electric shock to a person experiencing cardiac arrest. These devices can be found in public places, workplaces, and healthcare settings, and they play a crucial role in saving lives. In this blog post, we will provide a step-by-step guide on how to properly use an AED. Remember, this information is for educational purposes only, and professional medical advice should always be sought in emergencies.

  1. Assess the Situation:

Before using an AED, ensure that the area is safe for both you and the victim. Check for any potential hazards such as water, electrical wires, or flammable substances. If the scene is unsafe, wait for professional medical help to arrive before attempting to use the AED.

  1. Confirm Cardiac Arrest:

An AED should only be used on an individual who is unresponsive and not breathing or only gasping. Check for responsiveness by tapping the person and shouting, "Are you okay?" If they don't respond, look for normal breathing for no more than 10 seconds. If there is no breathing or only gasping, it is likely cardiac arrest, and the AED should be used.

  1. Call for Emergency Assistance:

While you prepare to use the AED, ask someone nearby to call emergency services immediately. Provide them with the accurate location and inform them that an AED is being used.

  1. Retrieve and Prepare the AED:

Locate the nearest AED and bring it to the victim. Many AEDs are stored in clearly marked cabinets or wall-mounted cases. Open the AED and carefully follow the voice prompts or visual instructions provided by the device.

  1. Apply the AED Pads:

Expose the victim's bare chest and wipe away any moisture or sweat. If necessary, use a towel or cloth to dry the chest. Attach the AED pads to the victim's bare skin as indicated on the pads. One pad should be placed on the upper right side of the chest, just below the collarbone, and the other pad on the lower left side of the chest, above the ribcage.

  1. Stand Clear and Analyze the Rhythm:

Ensure that no one is touching the victim or the AED. Once the pads are in place, the AED will begin analyzing the victim's heart rhythm. During this time, avoid touching the victim and let the AED complete its analysis. Stay clear until the AED provides further instructions.

  1. Follow the AED Prompts:

If the AED detects a shockable rhythm, it will prompt you to deliver a shock. Ensure that no one, including yourself, is in contact with the victim or any wet surfaces. Press the shock button as instructed by the AED. Some AEDs deliver the shock automatically without the need for manual activation.

  1. Perform CPR:

After delivering the shock, or if the AED advises against a shock, immediately begin CPR by following the recommended guidelines. Perform high-quality chest compressions and rescue breaths until the AED instructs you to stop or until professional help arrives.

  1. Continue to Follow AED Instructions:

Throughout the resuscitation process, the AED will provide step-by-step instructions on when to administer additional shocks, when to resume CPR, or when to pause for analysis. Always follow the prompts provided by the AED until professional medical help arrives.

  1. Handover to Medical Professionals:

Once medical professionals arrive, inform them about the actions you have taken and the number of shocks delivered. They will take over the resuscitation efforts and provide further medical interventions.


Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) are valuable tools that can save lives during cardiac emergencies. By following the step-by-step guide outlined in this blog post, you can properly use an AED and provide critical assistance to someone experiencing cardiac arrest. Remember, receiving formal training in CPR and AED usage from reputable organizations like MyCPRNOW can further enhance your knowledge and confidence in responding to emergencies.

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