In which area is the coffee machine at your workplace? Where is the cafeteria? The bathrooms?
Could you answer all the three above questions? Good. Now answer this one last question for me: where is the Automated External Defibrillator (AED) located?

If your answer was 'I don't know', let me try to make it easier for you - have you seen an AED at the airport in your city? At the mall you regularly frequent? The school your child attends? Do you know what an AED is and what does it looks like?

Yes, I realize, you are not a medical practitioner and so feel it is unfair of me to ask this. But you see, an AED is not a device made for Intensive Care Unit doctors like me... it is specially designed for regular people of society like you. It is for you... and you need to know not just where it is located and what it looks like but also how easy it is to use.

an AED is not a device made for Intensive Care Unit doctors like me... it is specially designed for regular people of society like you.


What is an AED?

You may have seen slapstick sequences in movies where the protagonist uses electric shocks to jolt a lifeless person back to life. Funny? Yes, unless it is a real-life scenario and the person whose heart is not beating is your near and dear one.

In real life, when a person collapses due to a sudden cardiac arrest and has no palpable pulse may be having an abnormal heart rhythm (an arrhythmia) that messes with the heart's ability to deliver blood effectively and it can be fatal, if not corrected rapidly within 5-8 mins. Remember, there is no oxygen that is being supplied to the brain and other parts of the body during this period, hence corrective measures have to be swung into action immediately.

An AED is a wonderful device that will literally tell you every step you need to take to save a life.  It then delivers an electrical shock to stop this arrhythmia and set the heart rhythm back to normal, similar to your computer's CTRL-ALT-DEL function.

An AED is a wonderful device that will literally tell you every step you need to take to save a life.
Image Source: Here


Why do we need more AEDs in India?


Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) remains the leading cause of deaths in the world, the tragic numbers being more than that of deaths due to the top three cancers, motor vehicular accidents and suicides all combined. In India, we fare far worse statistically, our sedentary lifestyle and poor dietary habits combining with increased stress levels.

An estimated 17 million people die from heart disease every year


The numbers? An estimated 7 lakh people are dying of SCA every year! Now, think of what I told you earlier - you can save them. Not me, as a doctor in a hospital far away, but you as a person, as a bystander, who witnesses them collapse suddenly.

doctors dying of cardiac arrest
A cardiac arrest can occur at any time, anywhere to anyone.


Yes, prevention of heart disease and lifestyle modifications should be the primary goal but what happens when a cardiac arrest occurs? 

What do you do? Is it enough to gather around the person or else search for the nearest hospital at a time when every second counts? A person whose heart has stopped can be saved if you can revive him/her within the first 5 - 7 minutes after a witnessed collapse. It is potentially fatal to just wait for an ambulance to arrive or get to a hospital.


Awareness of two things is of the essence when it comes to restarting the heart.

  1. The first is to start early chest compressions. The goal of effective compressions is to ensure blood continues to reach the brain and vital organs. As part of public awareness, I have spoken about chest compressions in detail here
  2. The second is knowing where your AED is located and how to use it once it arrives.

Chest Compressions and an AED can help restart a heart
Chest Compressions and an AED can help restart a heart

How to use an AED

While your compressions help buy time, the definitive treatment for an SCA is defibrillation.

AEDs like the Philips HeartStart FRx and the Philips Heartstart Onsite are ready to use out of the box. They are designed to help you even if you have never seen the device before.

AEDs are designed to help you even if you have never seen the device before.
Image: HeartStart FRx


Just  grab the nearest AED, get it near the collapsed victim, and switch it on.

  1. Audio-visual prompts start interacting with you the moment you switch on the AED. 
  2. The device will actually speak to you in a calm voice, guiding you on what to do next. 
  3. Flashing icons on the device are there too so that in this distressing scenario, even if you cannot hear or understand the verbal command, you can just 'follow the lights'.


Special Scenarios: What about for Children and Infants?

Yes, children and infants too can have an SCA. In these scenarios, the Philips AEDs immediately recognizes when you switch to the pediatric cartridge (in Onsite) or insert the infant key (in FRx) and automatically adjusts the verbal instructions as well as the shock energy it delivers to the small child.

Pediatric AEDs are absolute life savers


Do you now understand how magical a device an AED is? This is a device meant for an ordinary person in an extraordinary moment... a device meant for you. This is why it is so essential to have these in a country like India where SCAs are above the global statistical average, not just at the workplace but also in key public regions like residential societies, metro & railway stations, schools, sports academies, gyms, parks, malls etc.

do you know where the nearest AED is located? Do you have one near you?    Find out.


I leave you once more with the same question I started this conversation with - do you know where the nearest AED is located? Do you have one near you?

Find out. And if you can't identify one around you, ask the appropriate authorities to procure an AED. Because at the end of the day, when you cannot reach a doctor in time, this is the only device that can help you save a life when a heart stops beating.

The easy steps to use an Automated External Defibrillator #SaveLife #SaveHeart
Read this image, save/Pin it and share it so that when the time comes, you can save a life without wasting a single precious moment. 


Authors note:

Of all the companies worldwide, Philips AEDs are currently the gold standard, accounting for 9 out of 10 major airline companies, 87 % of all Fortune 500 companies as well as having laurels such as the first US in-flight AED save, the 1st AED for children, the first biphasic AED and the only over-the-counter AED.

To know more about Philips AEDs, please call tollfree at 1800 419 8844

22 Comments

  1. I'd seen these units in airports but I had no clue how they worked. Good information and a great product to have in emergencies.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're right. All airports in India will have them. The thing we need to focus on is where else they are available for public in day to day life. Ideally, malls, schools and work places too need to have AEDs

      Delete
  2. I never knew about such a device. I think we have one at LULU Mall but don't know about the work place or bus stand.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ideally, corporate work places need to definitely have it. I would suggest you ask directly. If no, do consider asking them to get one.

      Delete
  3. It sounds so easy to use!

    ReplyDelete
  4. We used to have it in the earlier place I used to work. But I have not seen it in use here.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Just search for the box, I would say. Usually if it is there, it will be in a bright coloured box for easy identification..

      Delete
  5. I wish such basic training should be given to everyone irrespective of whether he or she is a doctor or medical student. Reading your post is so scary, Roshan. I don't know why.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This is totally agree with. Basic training courses for chest compression and using life saving devices like an AED should ideally be made mandatory. It makes so much difference.

      Delete
  6. I will share this with our HR head. We don't have anything like this in our place.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Definitely do so. It is important to have this at key locations... You don't have much time after a witnessed cardiac arrest to restart the heart

      Delete
  7. I've to confess, I'm the perfect audience for this post. I have no clue where the AED is or if there is one, and that tells me enough about my awareness levels. Thank you for writing this and sharing such critical information. More people need to know this. Sharing it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for sharing. Important that more people understand how big a life saver this device is.

      Delete
  8. I think every office should have one, will share it with our HR dept. Hopefully, they'll take the clue.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Can only hope that offices show the sense to actually demand it. It is for their own safety after all

      Delete
  9. I did not know the statistics were so bad for India with heart disease. This is a good topic for this world heart day.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The stats are extremely disheartening... From prevention to management, there is so much India still can do. And should do, ideally.

      Delete
  10. Didn't know kids too could get a cardiac arrest.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. While for kids the main primary cause tends to be respiratory (example choking on a food particle) , it leads to a cardiac arrest if not corrected. Then the AED comes into play

      Delete
  11. We definitely need more of these. Thanks for sharing such useful info, Doc Roshan.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Wow! All this is certainly new to me especially knowing about this device and how it works! We definitely need to raise awareness and also provide the necessary training to people so they know exactly what to do when they need to save a life!

    ReplyDelete

So what do you think ?