Archive for the ‘American Red Cross CPR’ Category

What is an AED Defibrillator: CPR AED Classes in Oakland

How to use an AED

Learn how to use an AED in the AHA BLS class.

Ventricular Fibrillation

The number one killer in the USA is heart disease. Every day, 600 Americans die after a sudden cardiac arrest, typically caused by a disturbance of the heart’s rhythms (arrhythmia) known as ventricular fibrillation. This dangerous condition can deprive the brain and other organs of blood, causing them to begin to shut down and fail. Unless the arrhythmia is corrected and blood flow is restored, brain damage and death will inevitably result. While standard CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) can help to deliver a limited amount of oxygen and blood to the starved tissues, it cannot restore sufficient blood flow to prevent damage or bring a patient out of ventricular fibrillation.


Fibrillation can be corrected by the application of a carefully calibrated electrical shock to the chest. This process is called defibrillation. It can effectively re-start the heart, allowing it to establish a normal rhythm and restoring blood flow once again. The device used is called a defibrillator. The majority of people who are being cared for in a coronary unit when cardiac arrest occurs will survive because a defibrillator is nearly always available, as are trained personnel who can use it effectively. Without this kind of specialist care, the chances of survival drop steeply – 10 per cent for every minute that ventricular fibrillation continues. After 10 minutes, there is virtually no chance that the patient can be resuscitated. Having a defibrillator to hand can make the difference between life and death.

Manual Defibrillators

In manual defibrillation, an electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) is used to monitor the patient’s heart rhythms. A doctor or other trained operator looks at the ECG to determine the exact moment to the defibrillator’s paddles against the chest of the person in cardiac arrest and administer a shock. Without training, it’s very difficult to use a manual defibrillator effectively; the user may actually do more harm than good.


An automated external defibrillator (AED) can read the heart rhythm of a patient in cardiac arrest via electrodes attached to the patient’s chest, allowing a shock to be delivered precisely when needed without the operator having to interpret an ECG. The device itself interprets the patient’s heart rhythm, prompting the operator to stand clear and press a button to administer a shock. This means that users with little or no medical knowledge can use the device, helping to keep the patient alive during the vital minutes after a cardiac arrest. An AED can usefully be installed in a public area such as a workplace, an airport or a train station, with designated first aiders given training in its use.

Using an AED

When confronted with a suspected cardiac arrest, the first step is to dial 911 and ask for an ambulance. This should be done straight away. Next, conventional CPR can be administered until the AED can be applied to the patient. Once the AED’s electrodes are attached to the patient’s chests, the operator can follow instructions from the device until the paramedics arrive to take over. The person using the AED must have proper training from the American Heart Association or the American Red Cross. The AHA provides CPR/AED Courses in Berkeley, CA.