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The Shocking Device That Can Save a Child

Posted on Jun 08, 2018

You’re at the mall and your child’s heart stops.

Do you know where the closest automated external defibrillator (AED) is?

Would you know how to save a life with one?

Unfortunately, the American Academy of Pediatrics says 6,000 children experience an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest each year. Some bystanders may not feel comfortable performing Hands-Only CPR or using an AED, but the American Heart Association reports there’s a greater chance of survival if an AED is used in an emergency cardiac event.

This lightweight, portable device delivers an electric shock through the chest to the heart and can potentially stop an irregular heart beat and allow a normal rhythm to resume after sudden cardiac arrest.

“The biggest barriers to using an AED during a cardiac arrest are typically fear of not knowing how to use them or hurting someone,” says Jen Arnold, M.D., medical director of the simulation program at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital. “The truth is, they are well designed to be safe and very easy to use. Most important, not using one could potentially result in death if someone experiences a cardiac arrest so it’s critical to use the AED as soon as possible.”

Dr. Arnold also adds that pediatric pads should be used in children 1-8 years old and the regular adult pads can be used in children and adults over 8 years old.

CPR and AED awareness week is celebrated June 1-7, but raising awareness about these lifesaving skills is important to remember year round. While some may have hesitation performing CPR in an emergency, an AED is an easy-to-use device that talks you through the process to potentially save a life.

The built-in computer can check the victim’s heart rhythm with adhesive electrodes and calculates whether defibrillation is needed, and if so, a voice prompts to press the shock button. The voice prompts continues to guide the rescuer through the process. The American Heart Association says the heart must be “defibrillated” quickly, because survival drops seven to 10 percent for every minute a normal heartbeat isn’t restored.

If you’ve haven’t noticed it at your local grocery store, mall, office building, airport or school, take a minute and look around to find the AED around you now.

Learn more about AED Awareness with Dr. Jen Arnold.  

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