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Essay by: ISP069   

Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) can save lives and they are simple! Implementing mandated placement of at least one AED in public places can make a huge difference. Not only because of their ease and ability to tell a provider when to deliver a shock or not, but also because, whether we realize it or not, there is most likely one person who knows how to use an AED in the case of an emergency. There is nothing worse than having a trained person with no access to the proper equipment (AEDs). According to The American Red Cross (2014), “training and access to AEDs could save 50,000 lives each year.” If AEDs are available on public transportation, in schools, parks, community centers, and other places of recreation, even one life saved is worth the cost.

As a nursing student, I have heard countless stories about emergencies happening in parks, at rivers and beaches; and nurses were there! Anywhere you go, chances are, nurses or other health practitioners are somewhere in the crowd. When emergencies arise, we react, and react quickly. Executing CPR while keeping calm, answering questions from the family and onlookers are just part of the seemingly natural duties of nurses. When there are onlookers, there are people to recruit to help you. Knowing where AEDs are located in case of an emergency should become second nature. As recognizable as a handicap sign or the bathroom signs, the representative lightning bolt that indicates an AED on the premises should be common knowledge. This is easy to teach and I recommend parents begin teaching children this just as they would teach them which signs mean boy’s bathroom versus the girl’s bathroom. The amazing part about that is we may be safe even if we are unaware of the qualifications of those who surround us. Too many of these stories end in tragedy where the resources were there, the tools were not.

Working in a pediatric hospital and a labor and delivery hospital, I am aware of the classes recommended to new mothers and fathers. Among the educational classes is basic life support (BLS) which includes the use of AEDs. Knowing this might help us comprehend the actual availability of care providers. For example, in the workplace, most work places employ parents. This means that the parents have likely had BLS training and have, at least, minimal knowledge of BLS and understand the importance of the AED. Too many times, I hear stories about a child who stops breathing and there were nurses around who performed CPR, however, the chest compressions alone were not enough. With access to AEDs, the chances of saving a life increase dramatically.

One requirement with BLS certification is renewal. The American Heart Association requires a renewal every two years. Because of the dynamic changes in healthcare and ongoing research, finding the best approach to life saving measures makes renewal in important. Renewal allows providers to stay up-to-date and refresh. Refreshing these skills can increase a provider’s confidence.

In conclusion, if access to AEDs inhibits the level of life saving measures, then implementing placement and access of AEDs is a small price to pay if it means saving a life. In addition, the AED is automated, making it easy to use. According to the U.S. Department of Labor (n.d.). “in mock cardiac arrest, untrained sixth-grade children were able to use AEDs without difficulty.” No need to interpret a rhythm, it is easy to use and learn, and it tells you what to do! It also inhibits the delivery of shock when not indicated.

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