THE ABCS OF AEDS

An estimated 785,000 Americans had a new coronary attack in 2010, while about 470,000 suffered a recurrence This averages out to one “sudden cardiac event” (SCA) every 25 seconds – and one fatality a minute. A significant percentage of these events occur in the workplace. That’s why more and more businesses are providing automated external defibrillators (AEDs) as a vital first-aid tool to help protect their workers on the job.

AEDs are computerized electronic devices that can check a person’s heart rhythm, recognize a rhythm that requires a shock, and advise emergency responders when a shock is needed. AEDs use voice prompts, lights, and text messages to instruct rescuers. According to experts, prompt treatment with an AED can restore normal heart function in up to three in five cardiac arrest victims.

Heart attacks, electrocution, and asphyxiation are the most common causes of cardiac arrest – defined as heart stoppage or “ventricular fibrillation” (the uncoordinated beating of the heart). Normal rhythm can be restored if treated early with electric shock. After an AED delivers a shock, it often prompts the operator to continue CPR while the device continues to analyze and monitor the victim. Make sure that employees designated to operate AEDs have thorough training in proper operation of the defibrillator. They should also be certified in CPR.

The sooner defibrillation is started, the better: the chances of survival diminish by 7% to 10% for each minute without defibrillation or CPR .The optimum time for defibrillation is three to five minutes after the onset of cardiac arrest. Because it can easily take longer than this for an ambulance to arrive, having an AED on-site can literally be a life saver. Of course, even with an AED on hand, an immediate call should be put in to 911 any time an employee goes into cardiac arrest on the job. Follow-up treatment at a medical facility will be required.

Although the cost of AEDs varies, many models are available for between $1,500 and $2,000 – a minimal investment that can pay huge dividends in saving lives and returning stricken employees to productive work.

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