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First Responders - Additional Info
First Responder Questions
How do I know I need to use an AED?
Only use an AED on someone you would do CPR on: a victim that is unconscious, unresponsive and not breathing.
Can I hurt a person by using an AED on them?
AEDs are designed for use on someone who is unconscious, unresponsive and not breathing. The AED makes shock delivery decisions based upon the victim’s heart rhythm, and will only deliver a shock to a person in ventricular fibrillation or ventricular tachycardia.
Should I perform CPR first or apply electrode pads from the AED?
Do CPR until the AED arrives and the machine is prompting for you to place the pads on the victim’s bare chest. Whenever possible, follow the voice prompts of the AED. It will tell you when to resume CPR.
If defibrillation is so important, why should I do CPR?
CPR provides some circulation of oxygenated blood to the victim’s heart and brain. This circulation delays brain death and heart muscle death.
Can I accidentally shock another rescuer or myself?
AEDs are extremely safe when used properly. The electric shock is programmed to go from one electrode pad to another through the victim’s bare chest. Precautions such as verbally warning others to stand clear and visually checking the area before you push the shock button will ensure the safety of rescuers and bystanders.
What if the victim has a medication patch on or ECG electrodes on the chest where I want to place the electrode pads?
Never place AED electrode pads directly on top of medication patches. Patches should always be removed and the skin wiped dry before placing electrode pads on the skin.
Do I need to remove the electrode pads before performing CPR?
No. The electrode pads remain on throughout the resuscitation and until the victim is transferred to advanced care providers like EMS or hospital personnel. If the electrode pads are in the correct location on the victim’s chest, they will not interfere with proper hand placement or compressions.
Should I use the AED if the victim has a pacemaker or is pregnant?
Yes, never withhold AED use in a person with SCA.
Can I defibrillate on a wet surface?
Yes. Be sure the victim’s chest is wiped dry. Keep the electrode pads away from a damp or conductive surface.
Can I defibrillate on or near a metal surface?
Yes. Keep the electrode pads away from contact with the conductive surface. Be sure not to allow anyone to touch the victim when a shock is delivered.
How much of the victim's clothing should be removed to carry out defibrillation?
The chest should be exposed to allow proper placement of electrode pads. A woman’s bra should be removed. Clothes may need to be cut off.
Why is it so important to be sure that the electrode pads are firmly adhered to a clean, dry chest?
Successful defibrillation requires electricity to flow from one electrode pad to the other through the chest. If the electrode pads are not firmly adhered and there is sweat or another conductive material between the electrode pads, the electricity will be more likely to flow across the chest rather than through it. This can result in ineffective defibrillation.
Is it okay to place the electrode pads directly on a hairy chest?
Electrode pads must come in direct contact with the skin. If the chest hair is so excessive as to prevent good adhesion of the electrode pad, the hair must be removed quickly with a disposable razor or, if there is a second set of pads they may be used to wax the chest.
What if I have a child victim?
Whenever possible you should use pediatric electrode pads for defibrillation on children and infants. Adult pads may be used on a child or infant victim if no pediatric pads are available.
After I have successfully defibrillated the victim, do I keep the electrode pads on?
Yes, even after a victim has been successfully defibrillated, he/she is at risk of developing VF again. The AED will continue to monitor the victim for the return of VF. The AED should be left on until emergency personnel assume responsibility for the victim.
What if the victim regains a pulse but is not breathing or is breathing slowly?
You should give rescue breaths at a rate of 1 every 5 seconds or 12 per minute
What if I don't perform all the steps of CPR and defibrillation perfectly?
SCA is a high stress situation. Even experienced health care providers do not do everything perfectly. In SCA, performing CPR and using an AED can only help the victim.