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Guidelines for CPR and Automated External Defibrillators

How to Operate an Automated External Defibrillator

An automated external defibrillator, or AED, is very simple to operate. If you can press an "on" button, you can use an AED.

Once the defibrillator is turned on, a computer-generated voice will walk you through the steps.

Here is what to expect:

  • You will be asked to place a set of adhesive electrode pads on the victim's bare chest and, if necessary, to plug the pads' connector into the defibrillator.
  • The defibrillator will begin to automatically analyze the person's heart rhythm to determine if a shock is required. It is important that no contact be made with the person while the defibrillator is analyzing the heart rhythm. If the person is touched or disturbed, the test may not be accurate.
  • If the defibrillator determines that a shock is necessary, it will automatically charge itself and tell you when to press the button that will deliver the shock.
  • Once the shock is delivered, or if no shock is deemed necessary, you will be prompted to check to see if the person has had a return of normal breathing or circulation. If not, you will be reminded to start CPR.

CPR Resources

To become certified in CPR and in the use of automated external defibrillators, contact your local American Red Cross or American Heart Association to find a class in your area.


WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by David T. Derrer, MD on December 06, 2013

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