The Difference Between Life and Death
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Essay by: CCTC-27

This paper explores the recommendations that the American Heart Association (AHA) has set in regards to the usage of automated external defibrillators (AEDs). According to the AHA (2012), sudden cardiac arrest can occur in anyone at any place and time. During sudden cardiac arrest, resuscitation of the heart is needed, which requires cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) until an automated external defibrillator (AED) is available (Lewis, Dirksen, Heitkemper, Bucher, 2013). The AHA recommends the implementation of AED training programs by businesses and organizations so that employees can be trained and certified to properly use an AED. In addition, AEDs need to be inspected and tested on a regular basis to guarantee the efficiency of the device. The AHA stresses the importance of making AEDs accessible in areas where large amounts of people gather, so the time that it takes to begin defibrillation can be reduced. This paper examines the AHA’s emphasis on the importance of AEDs and their recommendations regarding the proper use of AEDs.

The Difference Between Life and Death
According to the AHA (2012), sudden cardiac arrest has the highest mortality rate in the United States and can occur at any place and time. When the heart stops functioning, it is integral to resuscitate it through CPR until an AED is available (Lewis, Dirksen, Heitkemper, Bucher, 2013). According to the authors, the survival rates of cardiac arrest are highest with the use of CPR followed by defibrillation within five minutes of the collapse. Due to the sudden onset and dangers of cardiac arrest, the AHA emphasizes the importance of implementing AEDs and has set recommendations regarding the use of AEDs.
Implementation of AED Programs

Businesses and organizations are recommended to implement AED training programs with their local emergency medical services (EMS) (AHA, 2012). By doing so, more people will be properly trained and prepared for life threatening emergencies. In addition, AED programs will bring more awareness to the actions that should follow during heart-related emergencies, such as the signs and symptoms that occur, delivery of CPR, and operation of an AED (Weir, 2015). By educating more people about CPR and AED training, more people will know what to do in an emergency, which will ultimately save more lives.

Maintenance of AED
AEDs need to be maintained and tested to ensure the efficiency of the devices. By performing routine inspections and assessments every week or month, AEDs and its supplies can be kept up to date and ready to use during emergencies (AHA, 2012). It is crucial to have the proper equipment and supplies ready at all time due to the unexpected occurrence of an emergency. Therefore, it is important to inspect the integrity of the AED device on a regular basis.
Access to AEDs

The Availability of AEDs
AEDs are ineffective if they cannot be found and utilized during an emergency. The AHA (2012) recommends that both public and private places where large amounts of people gather should be prepared with AEDs. By making AEDs more accessible, the amount of time needed to locate one can be reduced. In case of a medical emergency, AEDs should easily and quickly be located and utilized.

The Criticality of Time
Time is a key factor in determining whether someone in cardiac arrest survives or lives. For every minute without defibrillation, the odds of survival declines by ten percent (Weir, 2015). Due to the sudden onset of cardiac arrest, it can occur anywhere at anytime. It is vital to defibrillate someone who is in cardiac arrest within five minutes of collapse to restore regular heart rhythm and function (Lewis et al., 2013). In addition, there is a correlation between the amount of time it takes for defibrillation to be delivered and the efficacy of AEDs. The sooner an AED is available, the more effective it will be and the sooner the shocks can be delivered (Weir, 2015). By having an AED on hand, there is no need to wait for EMS to defibrillate, which will save treatment time and improve the chance of survival.

AEDs are vital for restoring regular heart rhythm and function during sudden cardiac arrest. Since it plays a significant role in life threatening emergencies, the AHA has set recommendations pertaining to the use of AEDs. By implementing more AED training programs, more people will be educated about the skills that are necessary during an emergency. Also, maintaining and inspecting AED devices on a regular basis can guarantee that they will work properly during an emergency. In addition, AEDs need to be easily and quickly located and utilized. Considering these recommendations in regards to AEDs could be the difference between life and death.

American Heart Association [AHA]. (2012). Implementing an AED program.
Lewis, S. M., Dirksen, S.R., Heitkemper, M. M., & Bucher, L. (2014). Medical-surgical nursing: Assessment and management of clinical problems (9th ed.). St. Louis, MO: Mosby.
Weir, A. (2015). Community first responders: improving access to defibrillation in cardiac arrest. Journal of Paramedic Practice, 7(3), 114-116. doi: 10.12968/jpar.2015.7.3.114