The Role of AEDs in First Aid


Heart attacks and strokes are the leading causes of sudden death in Canada. Every minute counts when someone has a heart attack or stroke, so it's important to know how to use an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) if you or someone else has one nearby.

What is an AED?

An Automated External Defibrillator (AED) is a portable device that delivers an electric shock to the heart. It can be used to treat ventricular fibrillation and pulseless ventricular tachycardia. Ventricular fibrillation (VF) is the most common type of cardiac arrest, which occurs when there is uncoordinated electrical activity in your heart muscle and its valves don't close properly. This prevents blood from flowing through your body properly, depriving it of oxygen-rich blood and leading to death within minutes if not treated quickly.

Ventricular tachycardia (VT) means that your heart beats too fast or irregularly due to an electrical problem with its rhythm patterns; VT can lead directly into VF if left untreated over time because both conditions cause insufficient blood flow through your body's tissues due to abnormal contraction rates within different regions of your ventricles' specialized cells called cardiomyocytes -- these cells provide nutrients and remove waste products from other parts surrounding them during normal activity levels but become damaged under stressful conditions like those experienced during intense physical activity!

Why are AEDs important in first aid?

The use of AEDs is important to first aid because they are designed to be used by non-medical personnel. Anyone can use an AED, including first-aiders and lay rescuers. This means that there is no need for medical training or certification before using one of these devices.

AEDs have been shown to save lives when used correctly at the right time. They are used primarily in public places where there may be people who are experiencing sudden cardiac arrest (SCA), which occurs when a person's heart stops beating normally and cannot pump blood around their body anymore.[1] If an SCA victim doesn't get help within minutes, they could die from a lack of oxygenated blood going through their brain or other organs.[2]

When should I use an AED?

When should I use an AED?

If you're in a situation where someone is showing signs of cardiac arrest, it's time to use an AED. These include:

  • When someone isn't breathing or has no pulse. If you see that their chest isn't rising and falling with their breath, or if you can't feel a pulse by placing two fingers on the side of their neck, then they need medical attention immediately. Don't waste time trying to resuscitate them manually--use your training and skills as a first responder by calling 911 or using an automated external defibrillator (AED). An AED will shock their heart back into a rhythm so they can breathe again!
  • When someone is unresponsive after having been injured in some way (car accident, fall) or is experiencing seizures; these situations also require immediate medical assistance so please call 911 before attempting any kind of first aid treatment.

If you're in a public place, don't wait for a paramedic to arrive. Call an ambulance and use the AED to keep the victim alive until help arrives.

If you're in a public place, don't wait for a paramedic to arrive. Call an ambulance and use the AED to keep the victim alive until help arrives.

AEDs are easy to use but you need to know what you're doing. They are used on cardiac arrest patients (people who have stopped breathing) only--no other injuries or conditions can be treated with an AED. Anyone can use them whether they are trained or not because there's no harm in trying if your friend is having trouble breathing or has collapsed from sudden chest pain or heart attack symptoms such as dizziness/lightheadedness; sweating; nausea/vomiting; cold clammy skin color change (pale blue); shortness of breath with rapid shallow breathing pattern(hyperventilation) which may sound like wheezing sounds when exhaling through pursed lips -- these may indicate life-threatening emergency situations requiring immediate medical attention.


AEDs are an important part of first aid, and they can save lives. First aid is a key component of any emergency response plan, but it's not always easy to get people to learn how to administer basic life support techniques like CPR or use an AED. That's why it's important for everyone--whether they've been trained or not--to know how these life-saving tools work, so that when someone needs help fast and you're the only one around with medical knowledge (or even just some common sense), you can act quickly and confidently.

AEDs should be used by anyone who has been trained on them--but also by those who haven't! The reason for this is simple: if everyone knows how these devices work then there will always be someone ready in case another person needs immediate care during an emergency situation such as cardiac arrest or stroke symptom onset


AEDs are an invaluable tool in first aid, and they should be a part of every school and workplace. In fact, the we recommend that all public spaces have AEDs on hand to treat sudden cardiac arrest. When used properly, these devices can save lives and prevent permanent brain damage by providing quick access to the right treatment when seconds matter most.

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