How AEDs Work

How AEDs Work

To the Editor:

Now that Fairfax County has purchased 623 Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) for placement in county buildings as well as schools around the county, it is perfect timing for everyone to become familiar with how AEDs work. The local Red Cross chapter offers training in the use of both AEDs and CPR.

The beauty of these machines is that, once activated, a voice talks the rescuer through the process and, after the machine obtains a reading on the injured person, the machine will not administer a shock unless a shock is needed. So anyone can use one. Still, Red Cross training helps a person identify a problem and act quickly to render aid.

Swift action saves lives. In the five years I served as an army MEDEVAC helicopter pilot, my crew flew every mission with the knowledge that a "Golden Hour" exists where patients receiving a high-level of care within 60 minutes of a traumatic injury stood the best change for survival. The goal of our missions was to shave valuable minutes off the response time. The AED mission is similar. I recently learned from a Red Cross instructor that for each minute that defibrillation is delayed, survival is reduced by 10 percent.

The sudden death reversal rate is two percent or less if only CPR is administered. The actions of emergency room staff or EMS crew in an ambulance or helicopter may improve the rate to a five or 15 percent chance of reversing sudden death. But if a bystander uses both CPR and an AED, the chances of reversing sudden death rise to between 30 percent and 75 percent. Once the situation is determined to be a cardiac event, you should begin CPR and simultaneously send someone to call 911 and send another to find the AED.

Cardiac failure can happen to anyone at any age. That is why, as a physical fitness and health advisory committee member for Fairfax County schools, I urge that parents, students as well as faculty and staff become skilled and confident in CPR and AED use. Contact your local Red Cross for a class nearest you or tell the Red Cross you'd like to host a class in your workplace, church or community center.

Private vocational schools like APM Vocational Institute offer

worksite instruction as well. Invest in it. Your co-worker may save your life some day.