What Are the Steps for Using AED?



first aid procedure using AED to an old male

If a person has collapsed and is not breathing or not breathing regularly and you cannot find their pulse and they have changed colour, it is likely that a cardiac arrest has occurred and the following steps should be taken:

  1. Turn on the AED and listen to the instructions.
  2. Remove the patient’s shirt
  3. Dry the patient’s chest
  4. Locate the pacemaker and medicinal patches
  5. Attach the pads
  6. Ensure nobody is touching the patient
  7. Press the analyse button
  8. Begin CPR after the shock
  9. Listen to the further instructions from the AED device

AED is used in the case of cardiac arrest. That can happen to anybody and anywhere. To make sure people in your workplace have the greatest chances of survival, place one or more portable AEDs in your workplace, so they are easily reachable and used.

What Are the Steps in the Chain of Survival?

Steps in using AED
Click the image to view the whole Infographic.

AED is an extremely important part of the chain of survival, but it is not the only one. When an accident like a cardiac rest occurs, time is of essential value.

The chances of survival drop with every minute. On the other hand, there are several things to do. You need to call the ambulance, begin CPR, get the AED and use it, all while waiting for the ambulance to arrive.

When to Use AED?

As you can see from the first step in the chain of survival, the early detection of the issue is important. You should use the AED when you notice that the person has collapsed without consciousness, you cannot find their pulse and they are not responsive.

SymptomHow to check for it?
Person is not responsiveCall their name and gently shake them. Kids should not be shaken, only gently pinched.
Breathing issuesLook if the chest is moving; check their breath on your cheek for 10 seconds
No pulsePlace the index and middle finger on the person’s carotid artery, next to the windpipe
Change of skin colourVisual estimate
SpasmsVisual estimate

AED helps with the cardiac arrest. The heat attack victims will benefit more from the constant and well performed CPR. However, don’t waste time on trying to make a 100% accurate diagnosis and administer both CPR and

Do You Need Training to Use Defibrillator?

No. You don’t need training to use modern AEDs. When you attach them to the patient, they mostly do their work all by themselves. You just need to get it attached to the patient in time.

First Aid training guide
Click the image to download the poster

When you remove the patient’s shirt, it is best if you place one pad over the right nipple and the other on the left side of the patient’s chest, below the left breast area. If you need to use the AED on a child, then one pad should be placed on the front and one on the back of the chest.

Keep the AED pads on the patient even when the shock is administered and you are resuming CPR. The AED will continue to analyse the heart rate and warn you if it is about to administer another shock.

When Not to Use Defibrillator?

There are several instances when you should not use the AED and when you should use AED with caution. However, always keep in mind that the reasons FOR the defibrillation usually always outweigh the reasons not to use it. After all, that is the matter of life and death.

When NOT to Use AED?How to proceed?When to Use AED with Caution?How to proceed?
Patient is in waterRemove the person from water, take off their wet clothes and dry their skinPeople with pacemakersAvoid direct contact with the pacemaker
Patient is surrounded with combustible materialMove the person to a safe areaPeople with excessive chest hairIf possible remove the hair or find hair-free patches of skin
ChildrenUse pediatric pads if necessary. Do not use it on infants under 12 months of age.
People with medical patchesRemove the patch

Can You Use AED in the Rain?

No. You should not use AED in the rain. You should move the person to the dry area, remove their clothes and wipe their chest dry. Otherwise, the AED will not be able to get accurate readings of the heartbeat and it will not be able to administer appropriate shock. Also, this can present danger for the people around the patient.

Can You Use AED on a Pregnant Person?

Yes. There is no fear that the AED will hurt the baby of a pregnant person. The same goes for the CPR. On the contrary, stopping of the mother’s heart means that the baby’s oxygen is cut off, as well.

That can cause more damage than any mechanical injury that is not impossible during the CPR or the AED shock. Don’t worry and if a pregnant person goes into a cardiac arrest, administer the CPR and AED immediately. AED can have a pregnant person’s life.

Can you use an AED on Someone with an Implanted Defibrillator?

Yes. The implanted defibrillator is actually another name for the pacemaker. It is usually located right beneath the collar bone. Earlier models were in the shape of disc that could, sometimes, be seen or felt underneath the fingers. However, today, more and more pacemakers are becoming smaller.

However, the presence of the pacemaker should not worry you. You should just do your best not to place the AED pads on it and everything should be just fine.

AEDs save lives. That should be a good enough reason for you to get them for your workplace. There is no need to make a capital investment just yet.

Rent your workplace AEDs from Alsco NZ and make it easy for yourself. We install them, service them and check them. You just let us know you need them. The rest is our concern.


Photo courtesy of EMS Safety

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Disclaimer – These articles are provided to supply general health, safety, and green information to people responsible for the same in their organisation. The articles are general in nature and do not substitute for legal and/or professional advice. We always suggest that organisations obtain information specific to their needs.