How to Use an AED and Do CPR

Three Methods:AssessmentUsing the AEDCPR

Sudden cardiac arrest happens to over 250,000 people a year. Every 33 seconds in the United States, someone dies due to a heart-related incident. The survival rate can be as high as 60 percent in ideal circumstances, the most important of which is quick defibrillation. In order for the patient to have the best chance of survival during an outside of hospital cardiac arrest, someone must call for emergency medical assistance (911 in North America), perform CPR - which is an acronym for Cardio (heart), Pulmonary (lung) and Resuscitation (meaning to revive or revitalize)[1] - and use an AED, before receiving pre-hospital advanced care.

Good Samaritan laws provide legal protection for those who provide first aid in good faith and accept no compensation, but laws do not protect against gross negligence and laws may also require acceptable current certifications for AEDs use. However, provided that the patient is indeed in cardiac arrest, it is impossible to do more harm than good because the patient is already considered dead.

Method 1

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    Be sure that both you and the patient are in a safe location before continuing. If an AED is available, also check to ensure that the patient is not in standing water and is not located near flammable materials. Do not make yourself another patient!
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    Check the patient. Tap the ground and shout.
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    If there is no response, contact emergency services immediately!
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    Check the CABS.
    • C-Chest Compressions- If the patient does not appear to be breathing normally, place your hands in the middle of their chest, between the nipples, and push down at least 2 inches, at a rate of at least 100 compressions per minute.
    • A-Airway- Tilt the patients head back to open the airway.
    • B-Breathing- Give 2 ventilations, just enough to make the chest rise. This should take no more than 10 seconds.

Method 2
Using the AED

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    Look around your immediate area for an AED (Automated External Defibrillator) such as the one seen above this paragraph. The location of AEDs may be marked with the symbol shown in the image in the introduction of this article.
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    If you cannot locate an AED, proceed with CPR. You should instruct bystanders to call emergency services and search for an AED. Staff members in public places such as railway stations or airports will be able to provide instructions and alert any emergency response units or first aid teams that may be present to assist with CPR and Defibrillation.
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    Turn on the AED unit. Depending on the model of the AED you may have to pull a handle or push the on button.
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    Follow the AED's voice prompts.
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    Remove all clothing from the chest, abdomen, and arms (male or female).
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    Peel the pads off and place them exactly as shown. Accuracy is more important than speed when placing pads.
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    Usually the AED will start to immediately analyze the patient's heart rhythm. If it does not, you might have to push the analyze button. Do not touch the patient during this or any other part of the defibrillation process.
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    If the AED has a shock advised prompt, push the button. When you shock, make sure no one is touching the patient. Also, the patient must not be touching metal and there must not be large amounts of water on the chest (sweat is okay). The patient must not be wearing a nitro patch. If the patient has a pacemaker, try not to place the pads directly on the unit.
    • The AED will shock up to 3 times. Usually one shock is needed. Newer AEDs following recent guidelines will shock only once on the highest energy setting, after which they should prompt you to immediately perform two minutes of CPR.
    • Some pulse-less heart rhythms cannot be treated by defibrillation. If the AED does not advise a shock, check the pulse, and if there is none, continue CPR.

Method 3

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    Determine what is needed. If there is no breathing and no pulse, start chest compressions. If there is a pulse but no breathing, just give ventilation. A person will always have a pulse if he or she is breathing, but one can have a pulse and not be breathing.
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    If the person only needs ventilations, blow every 5 seconds. After 2 minutes, check for breathing. If there is no breathing, continue breathing treatment (rescue breathing). If there is breathing, put the patient in the recovery position.
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    If the person needs both treatments, blow 2 times (each breath for 2 seconds)while holding nose shut, then follow up the rib cage and find the top of the rib cage and place down two fingers and start your compressions. 30 times and continue until you have completed 5 cycles. cycles (2 min) then check for breathing and pulse. No breathing and no pulse?...Continue. Breathing and pulse...recovery. Pulse no breathing...rescue breaths.


  • Without help - the chance of surviving a cardiac arrest is between 4% to 6%
  • About 70% of cardiac arrests happen at home.
  • Every minute that goes by, the chance of survival decreases about 10%.
  • Don't be afraid to help. Your actions will only help.
  • The average ambulance takes 9 minutes to get to your home.
  • You may purchase AEDs for homes for under $1000.
  • It is okay to just perform chest compressions if you are unwilling or unable to give breaths
  • Most arrests outside hospital are due to an arrhythmia called ventricular fibrillation and can respond well to prompt defibrillation


  • Do not touch the patient when shocking or analyzing; doing so may cause you to receive an electric shock.
  • Take a CPR class. It is impossible to master CPR through an internet article.
  • Do not ever perform CPR on someone who is not unresponsive. Doing so could cause injury.

Things You'll Need

  • AED
  • CPR breathing barrier (optional)

Article Info

Categories: First Aid and Emergencies | Medication and Medical Equipment