HomeHealthSteps to use a defibrillator


Steps to use a defibrillator

A defibrillator gives an electric current dose (which is often known as a counter-shock) to a person’s heart. Defibrillators are lifesaving pieces of equipment, but they can be scary to use. This article will help you understand the basics of using a PAD (public access defibrillator) so that you can act fast in a situation of emergency.

Remove chest clothing

Any clothing that is covering the person’s chest should be removed for better first aid. Remove jewellery and watches from the victim’s arms, wrists, fingers and toes. Carefully remove the AED’s battery cover by lifting it from the bottom (it has hinges). The battery should be removed from the AED after each use so that it does not lose power when not in use. This also ensures that any residual energy is drained from within the device before storage or transport. If your AED does not have a removable battery pack then you will want to store it in an area where this cannot happen, such as inside an insulated case of some kind or at room temperature storage.

Getting the AED to work

Switch on the AED. Adult pads should be used with adults and children older than 8 years of age. Following the prompts provided by your AED unit is most crucial in saving the victim’s life. If using an adult pad, identify an area about the size of a fist between the nipples (just below them for men). Over that area, place one hand on top of another and press firmly against the chest wall.

If using paediatric pads, place them on the child’s bare skin with adhesive side down, centred over their heart. The electrical current flows from left to right across the chest through both sides at once so it doesn’t matter which side is placed on top.

Infant/child pads should be used with children younger than 1 year or less than 55 lbs (25 kg) in weight. Do not use adult pads on children, no matter what the circumstance.

Begin CPR immediately in the absence of breathing

In the event that you are in a situation where someone is not breathing and their heart is not beating, do not stop CPR. Continue administering compressions until an AED arrives on scene. At the rate of nearly 100 compressions per minute, continue pressing down in the centre of the person’s chest using two fingers, until an AED arrives on scene or if instructed by emergency responders. Once you attach an AED, it will analyse the patient’s heart rhythm and determine whether they need a shock. The unit may advise you not to deliver any shocks if CPR alone is enough to stabilize the patient’s heart rhythm.

Let the defibrillators reassess until help arrives

Once you have used the AED, it will automatically check if you have done it correctly. You may be asked to do things such as push on the person’s chest or check their pulse again. Don’t stop until help arrives. If you cannot get through to anyone else, don’t feel guilty that you were too late. Try again as soon as possible and keep trying until someone is there to help. Acting on your toes will be more beneficial than you can imagine. Stay calm and stay put with CPR through stable hands.


If you follow these steps carefully and do what the AED tells you to do, it will surely make a lot of difference in the person’s life. But knowing what is best for the patient is tricky in a high stakes situation. Be sure to call yourself or get someone to call 000 right away, in case of emergency.

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