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What is an AED?

An Automated External Defibrillator (AED) is a portable device that analyzes the heart’'s rhythm and, if necessary, allows a rescuer to deliver an electric shock to a victim of sudden cardiac arrest. This shock, called defibrillation, may halt the rapid and chaotic heart activity of sudden cardiac arrest, and help the heart to reestablish an effective rhythm of its own.

About the size of a laptop computer, an AED typically consist of a main unit that provides controls and instructions, and detachable electrodes that the rescuer puts on the victim’'s body. The latest AEDs are remarkably simple to use. They automatically detect what treatment is appropriate for the victim, and give rescuers instructions for administering treatment (usually via audio prompts).

AEDs are used in hospitals and by Emergency Medical Services personnel and first responders like Law Enforcement officers and fire fighters. Their simplicity and reliability also allows use by minimally trained laypersons like security guards, health club employees, flight attendants and office managers.

Because sudden cardiac arrest is most effectively treated within the first few seconds or minutes of a sudden collapse, AEDs have the potential to save thousands of lives that could be lost if treatment is delayed until ambulances travel to the scene of a cardiac arrest. This is precisely why AEDs are such an important tool for Law Enforcement. As first responders, Law Enforcement officers are frequently placed in situations where they must respond to occurrences of Cardiac Arrest.

The earlier defibrillation is administered, the better. With every passing minute after sudden cardiac arrest occurs, the odds of the victim’'s survival decrease by 7-10%. The American Heart Association (AHA) estimates that early defibrillation could raise survival rates 30 percent or more. In many cases, EMS responders cannot arrive in time and lives are risked and even lost.

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