AED stands for automated external defibrillator. A defibrillator is a medical device that delivers an electric shock to a patient’s chest which in turn passes through the heart. This is done to terminate lethal cardiac rhythms and cause the heart to resume normal pumping activity.

AEDs are called automated because they take the decision to deliver a shock out of the hands of rescuers and place it in an internal computer chip. Audible prompts tell the rescuer what to do, from attaching electrodes to the patient’s chest to pushing a button to deliver a shock.

AEDs have been commercially available for the past ten years. Early units were large and expensive and hampered by regulatory issues. Designed for use by hospitals and ambulances, these devices never entered the public market.

In the early 90s things began to change. Manufacturers debuted the first new generation AEDs–ones that were light, inexpensive and easy for properly trained laypersons to use.

Today’s AED can weigh as little as 4 pounds and are as portable as they are automated.

This is all good news for cardiac arrest victims! With proper training you can learn to use these simple devices and really make a difference. Visit the PADL.ORG Approved Trainer Directory to locate quality defibrillator training in your area.