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Immediate response to sudden cardiac arrest with an automated external defibrillator ( AED) can make the different between life and death. According to the American Heart Association, in out-of-hospital settings when defibrillation with an AED is administered within the first 3 to 5 minutes of a sudden cardiac arrest victim’s collapse, an average survival rate of 74% can be achieved.

Every minute counts. Chances of survival decreases by 7-10% for every minute every minute the victim goes without defibrillation. The average response time for EMS is 7 – 10 minutes, so having AEDs available at easily accessible locations will help save lives.

Sudden Cardiac Arrest

• EMS treats about 300,000 victims of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest each year in the U.S.
• Less than eight percent of people who suffer cardiac arrest outside the hospital survive.
• Sudden cardiac arrest can happen to anyone at any time. Many victims appear healthy with no known heart disease or other risk factors.
• Sudden cardiac arrest is not the same as a heart attack.  Sudden cardiac arrest occurs when electrical impulses in the heart become rapid or chaotic, which causes the heart to suddenly stop beating. A heart attack occurs when the blood supply to part of the heart muscle is blocked. A heart attack may cause cardiac arrest.

• Approximately 5,000 – 7,000 children 18 years old and under suffer out-of-hospital cardiac arrest each year from all causes – including trauma, cardiovascular causes and sudden infant death syndrome.
• The incidence of out-of-hospital sudden cardiac arrest in high school athletes ranges from .28 to 1 death per 100,000 high school athletes annually in the U.S.

Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs)

• Unless CPR and defibrillation are provided within minutes of collapse, few attempts at resuscitation are successful.
• Even if CPR is performed, defibrillation with an AED is required to stop the abnormal rhythm and restore a normal heart rhythm.
• New technology has made AEDs simple and user-friendly. Clear audio and visual cues tell users what to do when using an AED and coach people through CPR. A shock is delivered only if the victim needs it.

Information from American Heart Association.


Anyone Can Use an AED

An AED is a device that analyzes a heart rhythm and prompts
a user to deliver a shock when necessary.
These devices only require the user to attach pads to a patient’s chest, turn the device on, and follow audio instructions. They do not require the user to make decisions or interpret symptoms. Anyone can learn how to respond to a life-threatening emergency and use an AED.


The Links of the Chain of Survival

A sequence of four steps that must happen as quickly as possible in response to a cardiac emergency

1. Recognize an emergency and call 9-1-1
2. Begin CPR
3. Use an AED
4. EMS arriving & hospital care

Break any of the links, and the chance of survival goes down. Don’t be the weakest link – no the links of the chain of survival. Every minute counts.

Starting CPR immediately after cardiac arrest to circulate oxygen-rich blood to
vital organs buys time for the victim until defibrillation can be given.

EMS arriving quickly to provide advanced professional medical care and transport the victim to the hospital.
Other Resources:

American Heart Association website