Automated External Defibrillator

Staff at a bus station are shown how to use an AED

What is an AED?

AED stands for "Automatic External Defibrillator" and can also be referred to as a, “shock box.” An AED is used to administer an electric shock to a person who is having a cardiac arrest. AED's are designed to allow non-medical personnel to save lives.

AED's can also be referred to a Public Access Defibrillators (PAD) if they are made accessible in a location for public use.

How does an AED work?

Two pads, connected to the AED are placed on the patient's chest. A computer inside the AED analyzes the patient's heart rhythm and determines if a shock is required to save the victim. If a shock is required, the AED uses voice instructions and visual prompts to guide the user through the process of saving the person's life.

Why do we need AED's?

AEDs save lives. When a person has a sudden cardiac arrest ("SCA"), their heart's regular rhythm becomes chaotic or arrhythmic. Every minute that the heart is not beating lowers the odds of survival by 7% to 10%. After 10 minutes without defibrillation very few people survive.

Find out more from the Resuscitation Council (UK) and British Heart Foundation publication, A Guide to AEDs.