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In America, every year sudden cardiac arrest kills more people than breast cancer, AIDS, house fires, prostate cancer, firearms, and traffic accidents combined (National Center for Health Statistics); the American Heart Association says 50,000 lives could be saved every year if automated external defibrillators (AEDs) were more widely available (currently only 5% of cardiac arrest victims are saved in the U.S. each year). Any second a defibrillator could save your life - is there an aed near you?
For years you've seen on television or movies "patients" in cardiac arrest saved by a defibrillator, but until recently defibrillators were only available in medical offices and hospitals. Thanks to incredible advancements in medical and computer technology, automatic external defibrillators are available for home or office and easy enough to be used by virtually anyone.
Why Defibrillation Works
Typically the heart forms electrical impulses 60-100 times a minute. This creates what is called the "normal sinus rhythm" and it is what makes up the peaks you see on cardiac monitors (which you've also seen on tv). During cardiac arrest (or ventricular fibrillation) there is no regular pattern to the electrical impulses which means the heart can't contract (so it can't eject blood). Defibrillation delivers electrical energy to the heart to allow the heart to resume regular electrical impulses (and therefore regular heart function).
Time is Key For Life Saving Defibrillation
For every minute ventricular fibrillation occurs without treatment, the chances of resuscitation decrease by 10 percent; after 10 minutes without treatment very few people survive. With the average response time for emergency vehicles and personnel at about 6 minutes to mid-size urban communities, it is easy to understand how quickly chances of survival diminish if you have to wait for EMTs to start treatment. Automated external defibrillators (AED) are such life savers, numerous states have passed legislation requiring AEDs to be present in public buildings.
Where Should Automatic External Defibrillators Be Placed?
The American Heart Association advises businesses follow the "3-minute rule": which means you should be able to walk briskly from your work station to the closest AED and bring it to the cardiac arrest victim within 3 minutes. Any place of business, large or small, should have automatic external defibrillators near employees. While some small businesses list AED cost as prohibitive, should an employee or customer ever go into cardiac arrest the ability to save their life will be much greater than buying a cost effective AED.
Businesses aren't the only places that should have external defibrillators, though. An author with Pediatric Clinics of North America reports that as many as 7,000 children are struck down by sudden cardiac arrest each year. With that in mind, day cares, schools, family restaurants, and a wide variety of places where children congregate should also have automatic external defibrillators within easy reach. AEDs are now cost effective enough for families to purchase them and have one at home for emergencies (many home owner associations purchase automated external defibrillators to be put in the community clubhouse or pool area).
Who Can Use AEDs?
Automated external defibrillators can be used on people of all ages; there are different electrode pads for small children and adults. While there is training available on how to use an external defibrillator, AEDs are incredibly easy to use, and offer audible (and/or visual) prompts that guide a user through the entire process. There are even microprocessors within the AED that measure the heart rate of the person with cardiac arrest, and deliver a shock only if the computer determines defibrillation is indicated by their heart rhythm.
The Best AED
There are numerous AEDs currently on the market. One of the most affordable defibrillation solutions is the First Voice SET System with First Voice EID, which won the 2006 SafetyXChange Best New Safety Product Award. This interactive, incredibly user friendly, portable first aid system is specially designed to assist you in various emergency scenarios and can include the HeartSine AED defibrillator. Seven different bags are labeled and color-coded by trauma which correspond to color-coded buttons on the First Voice Emergency Instruction Device (EID); users are coached through over 30 medical traumas from start to finish.
Philips is one of the leading AED brands, and the Philips AED HeartStart Home Defibrillator is the first home automated external defibrillator available without a prescription for use by virtually anyone. Designed only to give an electrical shock if needed, the AED HeartStart Home Defibrillator not only provides clear instructions to talk you through the entire defibrillation process, it additionally senses and adapts the instructions based on your actions. This AED runs daily self checks and warns of low battery power or needed maintenance.
The Philips Home Defibrillator is similar to the Philips HeartStart OnSite Defibrillator, which is one of the smallest and lightest defibrillators currently on the market (3.3 lbs). Philips designed the HeartStart defibrillators to be the easiest-to-use, and provide everything necessary for the ordinary person in the extraordinary moment.
Even lighter is the First Voice HeartSine Samaritan PAD AED at 2.4 lbs,; this defibrillator battery has a shelf life of 3.5 years (from date of manufacture) making it more cost effective than AEDs requiring separate battery units. Like the Philips defibrillators, the First Voice HeartSine AED signals with a green light if a shock is needed or else CPR can be performed. Calm audible and visual instructions take the user through the entire defibrillation process to aid someone suffering from cardiac arrest. This AED comes with its own storage cabinet and is a convenient purchase for businesses or schools.
Whether you are considering purchasing an AED for your home, work, or school, don't wait to make this life saving purchase. Automated external defibrillators save lives daily across the country, and should someone you love be struck by cardiac arrest you'll want it to happen within a 3 minute walk of an AED. Some legislation is moving towards making AEDs as commonplace as fire extinguishers, but you don't have to wait for bills to be passed to keep your loved ones safe with an automatic external defibrillator nearby in your own home, office, or regularly attended building.
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