Applying AED Pads During Defibrillation

If you’ve never needed to help somebody during a Sudden Cardiac Arrest before, it’s highly likely that you’d rather run a mile than help if it were to happen in front of you. Many people would panic and feel the pressure of this life and death situation – and that’s completely understandable.

But we want you to know something – without defibrillation, the survival rate of a sudden cardiac arrest victim is 10%. If the only thing you do is find the nearest defibrillator you’re already making a significant difference to that person’s life because their survival rate rockets to 74% if defibrillation is achieved within the first 3 minutes.

Do not wait for a professional! The good news is that many defibrillators such as the Lifeline View Auto have such simplified instructions, a completely untrained bystander or child can use them. Every step, including the CPR instructions, is super clear and there are even metronome counters on many of them for you to use for the rhythm of the chest compressions.

So basically you don’t need to think at all – your only job is to find a defibrillator and follow the instructions. We’ll share below how to apply the AED pads, but the instructions on the AED device will step you through this clearly too.

AEDs Are About Far More Than The Statistics

Before you read about AED pad applications though, we want to share something important with you. The problem with statistics like we’ve covered is that they are too detached from the reality of the situation – so it’s really easy for people to think that somebody else can help instead of you. If instead of highlighting the bigger numbers, we walked you through the day of a real person, it would feel far more personal.

We could step you through scenarios that put images into your own mind like them waking in the morning to the sun being too bright in their bedroom and add other relatable details of their life like them giving them a name – let’s go for Tom. We could then paint a picture in your mind of Tom squeezing the last part of the toothpaste out of his tube while he’s in a bit of a morning hurry like many of us are, or him giving his partner a kiss goodbye as he leaves his home for work that day. 

And then share details of his food shopping on the way home from work and smiling while he buys food for his little sister’s birthday family meal they’re hosting and are excited about – it’s not too long before we start to see Tom as a person, not a statistic. Or maybe we just say imagine absolutely anybody you know being one of these statistics because Sudden Cardiac Arrest can happen to anybody of any age.

You Could Help To Increase An SCA Survival Rate From 10% To 74% 

If we then said to line 100 Toms up, and only ten of them could step forward as the potential survivors of cardiac arrest, that would convey the reality far more. Next, we walk up to the remaining 90 and put a defibrillator into the hands of 64 of them and tell them to step forward too. You can see what you’re doing by locating the nearest AED. 

That is a huge difference being made to the survival rates when unexpected cardiac arrests strike. If an SCA patient is shocked within the first minute of suffering their sudden cardiac arrest, they have a 90% chance of survival, but every minute that passes by reduces their chances by 10%. 

If the only thing we could educate people on is that most AED devices are super simple to use, and that allocating someone to finding one in a Sudden Cardiac Arrest emergency, far more people would be living to tell their SCA tale.

How To Apply An AED Pad To An Adult During Sudden Cardiac Arrest

The most important message here is that absolutely anybody can use an Automated External Defibrillator as the AED will tell you EXACTLY what to do when you use it. Reading this is simply to familiarise yourself with how easy it is to help should you ever need to.

Applying AED pads differs slightly for adults than it does with children, but again, the AED device will tell you this. 

1 Turn the AED machine on – the instructions will tell you straight away what to do. 

2 The AED will tell you to remove the patient’s clothing to allow access to their bare chest because it is vital that the AED pads are applied to bare skin. 

3 You will be instructed (often with pictures to show exactly where to place the pads) to place one AED pad on the right side of the patient’s chest underneath their collar bone. 

4 You will also be instructed to place the second AED pad on the left side of their rib cage, underneath their armpit. 

5 You can then follow the instructions on administering the electrical AED shocks

Remember – you do NOT need to be professionally trained to do this – you can see above this is a really simple process. It is our panic at what is happening at the time that can interfere with the process, so simply finding an AED and following the instructions will hugely increase the chances of the patient surviving.

Here are few points to bear in mind:

  • The pads are positioned in this way so that the electrical shock can be sent directly through the heart. This may help to give you more of an understanding of the best positioning for them if you have any obstacles at the time.
  • Ensure the skin is dry before you apply the pads.
  • There is a strong chance that on a female patient, you’ll need to remove their bra. As embarrassing or inappropriate as this may seem, you are administering a life saving electrical shock and bare skin is required for this to be successful. 
  • If the patient has a pacemaker or implanted defibrillator, you will notice a scar on their skin and a bump – if this is the case, place the AED pad to the side of the metal under the skin, not directly over it.
  • If a patient is particularly hairy, this can also interfere with the shock capability. Obviously, the priority is to apply the pads and administer the shock, but medically trained professionals would be equipped to shave the pad area in this situation so this is worth noting.

Applying AED Pads To Children Under 8

As we mentioned, the purpose of the pads is to send the shock through the patient’s heart, but the pads are not supposed to touch each other as this would interfere with how the shock is administered to the heart.

With a child victim, their chest is likely to be too small to fit both pads to the front of their chest without touching. In this scenario, after turning the AED device on, you will be instructed to:

1 Remove their clothing to allow access to their bare chest and back.

2 Place one AED pad in the middle of their chest.

3 Place the other AED pad in the centre of their back between their shoulder blades. 

4 Follow the instructions on the device to administer the shock.

Many AED kits will include paediatric AED pads for children but if these are not available it is fine to use adult AED pads. Many AED devices will administer a paediatric shock too, but the device will step you through this though. The main thing to remember is that if paediatric pads or specific shocks are not available, an adult shock would still be required as their heart needs that shock as soon as possible to restart their heart.

If you’d like any advice on AED provision in your workplace or public venue, speak to our team and we can talk you through the best options for your needs. We are committed to working with as many businesses and premises as possible to make them heart safe environments so you can rent or buy defibrillators from as little as 70p per day with no outlay. Get in touch here if you’d like to know more.


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