Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs)

Historically, treatment for victims of SCA required use of manual defibrillators. Extensive medical training was required in order to interpret the cardiac rhythm displayed on the monitor, select the appropriate strength of defibrillation, and administer an electrical shock. Over the past several years, new technologies have allowed medical manufacturers to automate many of the components of defibrillator use. The Automated External Defibrillator, or AED, is a device that is capable of analyzing cardiac rhythms and selecting the appropriate strength of defibrillation, all at the touch of a button. All the user has to do is place two self-adhesive pads on the torso of a sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) victim and press a button on the AED. The AED will then analyze the rhythm and recommend the appropriate treatment. Initially reserved for use by trained medical responders such as firefighters and EMTs, the devices have now been used with great success by security guards in casinos, flight attendants on airlines, even passers-by in airports.


Efforts are now underway to develop and implement a Public Access Defibrillation, or PAD, program here in Wake County. An essential component of that plan involves placement of AEDs in locations throughout the community where cardiac arrests are likely to occur. In a manner similar to the placement of fire extinguishers near kitchens, we hope to place AEDs in high risk locations and provide potentially lifesaving treatment for victims of SCA. If you wish to learn more about AED placement or receive education in the use of an AED, select the appropriate link at right.