Tuesday, February 21, 2006



ext defib

Defibrillation is a process in which an electronic device, called an automated
external defibrillator (AED), helps reestablish normal contraction rhythms in a heart that's not beating properly. It does this by delivering an electric shock to the heart. All emergency personnel should be trained and allowed to use a properly maintained defibrillator if their job requires them to respond to people having cardiac arrest. This includes all first-responding emergency personnel, both hospital and non-hospital.

It's essential to integrate early defibrillation into an effective emergency cardiac care system. This means employing the "chain of survival" concept. The components of this concept are:

  • Early access to the emergency medical services system (call 9-1-1 immediately)
  • Early CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) when needed
  • Early defibrillation when indicated
  • Early advanced cardiac care

To make early defibrillation possible, it's essential that a defibrillator be immediately available to emergency personnel responding to a cardiac arrest. Thus, all emergency ambulances and other emergency vehicles that respond to or transport heart patients should be equipped with a defibrillator.

What can I do to help improve access to AEDs in my community?

  • Find out if the first-responder vehicles (ambulances, police cars and fire department vehicles) in your community are equipped with AEDs. If they are not, ask why.
  • Speak to members of city councils, county boards and state legislatures. Advocate starting an early defibrillation program in your community, including equipping all first responders with AEDs.
  • Support allocating funds to establish an early defibrillation program and to equip all first responders with AEDs in your community.
  • Advocate and support regulatory changes in your state that expand the use of AEDs by a broader range of first responders.

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