The AED (Automated External Defibrillator) is a device that is able to analyze the electrical activity of a person’s heart, recognize an abnormality in its functioning that is the cause of the cardiac arrest and deliver an electric shock in order to allow the person to regain normal heart activity.

Anyone can use it

Anyone, even a non-doctor, can use a defibrillator to save a life. The device guides the user through all stages of resuscitation, its use is easy. A simple principle to remember the order of actions:

  • To alert.
  • Massage.
  • Defibrillate.

As soon as you notice that the person is in cardiac arrest (he is unconscious and not breathing), you must alert the emergency services by calling 15, 18, 112 to start what is called “the chain of survival”.

For the second step, we must immediately start the cardiac massage, because the defibrillator will not be able to do it for us. It is even possible to do it at the same time as help is called, by putting the phone on the loudspeaker. As a reminder, you must:

  • Place the heel of one hand in the center of the chest, strictly on the midline, on the lower half of the breastbone, never on the ribs.
  • Place the other hand on top of the first, crossing the fingers of both hands to avoid pressing on the ribs (crocheted or crossed).
  • Strongly compress the victim’s thorax (5-6 cm) at a rate of 100-120 compressions per min, or 2 times per second.
  • Remember to keep the arms perfectly vertical and the shoulders above the victim’s breastbone, keep the elbows locked and the arms straight.

For the third step, and as soon as possible, it is necessary to implement a defibrillator. Ideally someone can go get the defibrillator if there are other people nearby. Otherwise, alone, you have to go and get it yourself, if the defibrillator is really nearby, because you should not interrupt the cardiac massage for more than 10 seconds.

Where can I find the defibrillator?

The defibrillator can be found on public roads and in places open to the public: airport and train station lobbies, shopping centers, certain apartment buildings, more and more in the workplace. The AED is marked with a green logo.

How to use the defibrillator?

  • It is important not to interrupt the cardiac massage: one person installs the defibrillator, and the other continues the massage.
  • Turn on the defibrillator, then follow the voice prompts from the device.
  • First, he will say to put the electrodes in place.
  • He will then ask to apply the electrodes on the victim’s chest (it must be naked and dry), or place them in an adult, it is indicated on the diagram on the packaging or on the electrodes.
  • “Heart rate analysis”: when the AED indicates it, do not touch the victim and make sure that the people around follow this instruction. Let the AED automatically trigger the electric shock, or press the “shock” button if the device requests it.
  • After shock has been delivered, chest compressions should be resumed immediately. In some cases, the defibrillator may decide that shock is unnecessary. Chest compressions should then be resumed immediately.

The AED should never be turned off and the electrodes should never be detached before help arrives, even if the victim’s condition improves.

Other tools

There are applications like Staying Alive or SAUV Life that allow emergency services to alert a network of volunteers who are near the victim of cardiac arrest. The application indicates its location and guides the rescuer in carrying out actions, until the arrival of help. In addition, these applications list the location of defibrillators.

Practice using the defibrillator

Using a defibrillator is simple. You have to turn it on, listen to it and follow the instructions.

It’s more comfortable to see in training how it works. To familiarize yourself with the use of AEDs and in general, you must learn the behaviors that save, several actors offer training. The French Red Cross, for example, offers long training courses, but also short initiations focused on cardiac massage and the use of the defibrillator.

To register, go to the Red Cross website, section “I’m training”: