Does Your Facility Have An AED? Five Common Myths About Buying One Debunked

Whether you operate a public or private facility, you may have held off purchasing an AED (automatic external defibrillator). AEDs are the devices used to shock the heart and restore it to its proper rhythm if it has stopped beating in an emergency. If your hesitance in buying an AED has been because you believe many of the common myths about their use, here are five of them debunked for you.

Myth #1: Heart attack victims need more than just a shock.

It's true that many heart attack victims need treatment beyond just a defibrillator shock. However, many cardiac arrests, where the heart has completely stopped functioning, are not due to a heart attack, also known as an MI or myocardial infarction.

An MI happens when one of the coronary arteries supplying blood to the heart muscle becomes blocked, denying the heart its full blood supply. Cardiac arrests, on the other hand, can be due to any number of factors such as problems with the heart's electrical system.

Cardiac arrests that are caused by arrhythmias like ventricular fibrillation and ventricular tachycardia respond very well to being shocked by an AED. Also, many heart attacks ultimately lead to cardiac arrest, so the two situations are linked.

Myth #2: We'll spend a lot of money on something we'll never use.

Most AEDs cost under $2,000. You don't need to buy the same model used on your local fire department's ambulance because it won't get the same amount of wear and tear.

Statistics show, however, that you may have a need for an AED. The US Government reports that heart disease is still the leading cause of death in this country, which is more than cancer or accidents, including motor vehicle fatalities. If you save just one life with an AED, isn't it worth it?

Myth #3: Can't we just wait for the AED on an ambulance?

Statistics also demonstrate that minutes count in the use of an AED. According to the American Heart Association, every minute that passes in an cardiac arrest without CPR and defibrillation lowers the victim's survival by 7-10 percent.

When you do the math, that means that if you have to wait 10 minutes for an ambulance to arrive, the cardiac arrest victim might be unable to survive the arrest. Alternatively, it usually only takes a couple of minutes to apply and use an on-site AED to administer the first shock.

Furthermore, the longer you wait to use a defibrillator, even if the victim does ultimately survive, the greater the risk of organ damage, including damage to the brain due to ongoing lack of oxygen. Call your local fire-rescue organization and ask about their average response time. You may discover that it's longer than you need for most people to survive a cardiac arrest, especially if the ambulance is out on another call, and your emergency has to be covered by what is known as "mutual aid" from another department.

New studies show that on-site AEDs save more lives every year than dispatched AEDs from ambulances, fire trucks, and police squad cars.

Myth #4: AEDs are difficult to use properly.

Today's AEDs are easier to use than ever. While you should train your facility staff on the use of an AED, even someone untrained in its application can follow the simple directions that accompany every machine. In fact, many people find using an AED far simpler than administering CPR.

Myth #5: You'll get sued if you use the AED incorrectly.

The United States protects users of AEDs with what are called "Good Samaritan Laws," so you can't be sued for using them incorrectly or if the victim does not survive. Only someone who willfully uses an AED to cause harm can be subject to legal consequences, not someone who is doing their best to help in an emergency.

The ability to purchase an AED has never been easier. With dozens of reputable models available from medical equipment suppliers online, and with the cost so reasonable today, what are you waiting for?

To buy an AED, look for medical products online