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Automated External Defibrillators (AED) (cont.)

Automated External Defibrillators

In the mid-1980s, a new generation of computerized defibrillators was introduced. Called Automated External Defibrillators, or "AEDs" for short, these devices were capable of interpreting a person's heart rhythm and automatically delivering a defibrillation shock with only minimal input from the operator.

For the first time, EMS personnel such as basic emergency medical technicians (EMTs) were able to provide the life-saving technique of defibrillation without having to interpret ECG rhythms.

As AEDs began to be placed in more and more "basic life support" ambulances (those not staffed by more advanced paramedics), the survival rates for out-of-hospital cardiac arrest began to rise. However, the problem of getting the defibrillator to the victim in less than 10 minutes remained a challenge.

The next step in reducing the amount of time it took to get a defibrillator to a cardiac arrest victim came with the recognition that the police are often the first to arrive at the scene of a medical emergency, ahead of an EMS unit.

  • With this knowledge, some EMS systems began to train and equip police officers to provide defibrillation with AEDs.
  • This allowed defibrillation to be performed sooner, often before an ambulance arrived.
  • The use of AEDs by law enforcement personnel had begun to have a significant impact in resuscitating victims of sudden cardiac arrest.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 4/23/2015
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