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The Importance of AEDs in CPR training - a Paramedic Perspective

The Importance of AEDs in CPR training - a Paramedic Perspective

The importance of AEDs in CPR training - a Paramedic perspective


Defibrillators are an essential part of the chain of survival—just ask any paramedic! The paramedic instructor team at Para CPR & First Aid knows the link better than any, and has partnered to explain the basics!


Here are some tips that can help you be prepared to use an AED to save a life:

How does an AED save a life?

AEDs work on two specific heart rhythms that occur during cardiac arrest. One rhythm is ventricular tachycardia and the other rhythm is ventricular fibrillation. In both instances the heart’s primary electrical pacemaker is being overpowered by erratic electrical impulses coming from elsewhere in the heart. So many other impulses occurring rapidly at the same time can cause the heart to ‘quiver’ or ineffectively squeeze blood to the rest of the body. The purpose of an AED is to provide electricity with the intention of ‘wiping’ the electricity clean so that the primary electrical pacemaker can take over its intended purpose of sending a singular impulse down the usual electrical pathway of the heart.

How to find an AED

Although previously very specialized healthcare equipment, defibrillators are now available to the general public in an easy-to-use format called an AED (Automated External Defibrillator). Some AEDs are Public Access - meaning that anyone can access them in the case of an emergency. Public-access AEDs are generally found mounted on a wall in a visible location, such as a public waiting area or entranceway. They should be clearly marked “AED” with a placard, as shown here (



When to use an AED

An AED is an essential life-saving tool that can significantly increase the chances of a person surviving a cardiac arrest. An AED should be used in any situation when CPR is being performed. It is a good idea to have an AED on standby for any patient who is found to be unresponsive or in a severe medical condition. These steps are covered in more detail when being trained in CPR!

How to use an AED

AEDs are incredibly user-friendly devices that help to guide a responder through a resuscitation effort. Generally, all you need to do is turn the unit ON and follow the prompts. However, as with any other skill, practice and familiarity provides an advantage when stressful situations arise. Practicing using an AED is a key part of CPR training, and regular training will help ensure you’re ready when the time comes.

Practicing CPR with AED use

When someone is in cardiac arrest, the situation can be extremely stressful. It is easy to become overwhelmed while attempting to multi-task so many aspects of a cardiac arrest. An AED will help to ease workload with prompts, including prepping the patient, applying the pads, counting compressions and breath ratios, providing a metronome, analyzing the heart rhythm, determining whether or not to shock, and charging the device. With so many tasks to manage, although an AED will provide excellent instruction, it is always helpful to practice CPR. There is huge value in incorporating good quality CPR with proper form to avoid fatigue, good hand placement, depth and recoil to ensure that the patient is receiving the best possible cardiac output to perfuse their vital organs.

The paramedic instructor team at Para CPR & First Aid is here to answer any questions you have about CPR or AED use and provide a paramedic perspective. Feel free to visit their website at to get in touch!

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