A defibrillator is a device that delivers an electric shock to the heart in order to stop a heart attack or a dangerous arrhythmia. Portable defibrillators have become more commonplace in recent years, and the ones available for public use are known as automated external defibrillators, or AEDs.A defibrillator is the only tool that can restore a normal heart rhythm during a heart attack, and most of them are simple enough for almost anyone to use effectively. The device monitors the rhythm of the heart and delivers an electric shock if necessary to restore the heart’s normal rhythm. The American Red Cross estimates that for every minute that goes by without using a defibrillator, the chances of a person’s survival decrease by 10 percent.
Organization Positions on Defibrillators
Because defibrillators have proven so effective at saving lives, a number of prominent health organizations have made strong statements in recent years about their use. The Red Cross, for example, supports the notion that a combination of CPR and defibrillation is the best emergency method for treating a heart attack. Further, its goal is for defibrillators to be so available publicly that everyone is within four minutes of an AED and an individual who's trained to use it.
The American Heart Association adds that all emergency personnel should be trained to use a defibrillator and that all ambulances and other emergency vehicles should be equipped with them. The Heart Association also recommends that areas with large gatherings of people should always be equipped with defibrillators, including sports stadiums, office buildings, factories, airports and the like. Many companies also have designated emergency responders who are trained to use the machines in the event of an emergency caused by cardiac arrest or a dangerous arrhythmia.
SOURCES: American Red Cross; American Heart Association