AED Guidelines for CPR. 2011 Guidelines.

The material posted in this blog on AED guidelines for CPR is for information purposes only. To learn to recognize and treat victims requiring a AED take a first aid and / or CPR class with Vancouver First Aid Ltd. Locations have expanded to include first aid training in Surrey and UBC.

To give any victim the best chance of survival the rescuer must implement the use of an AED. An AED is an automated external defibrillator created to flat-line irregular heart beats, such as ventricular tachycardia and fibrillation, in hopes of normalizing heart rhythms. The use of an AED can increase survival rates of victims from a low 1 to 2% with rescuers doing just CPR, to 8% with rescuers doing CPR and applying a AED. Because of the improved chances of recovery the Red Cross, Lifesaving Society, Heart and Stroke Foundation, St. John’s Ambulance and all other major providers have put AED training into all of there first aid and CPR curriculum.

The first step in using an AED is recognize the situation. Rescuers must assess the situation and send a bystander to contact EMS and locate a AED and additional help to use it. If the rescuer is alone he or she must call 911 and retrieve the AED (if nearby) before starting CPR on the victim. If the victim is either a child or an infant, the rescuer will perform 5 cycles of CPR (2 minutes) prior to calling EMS and obtaining an AED (if nearby). This is due to the fact that most children and infants suffer from respiratory arrest rather than cardiac arrest so the 2 minutes of CPR can be very successful.

The use of an AED on infants is only a knowledge component in first aid and CPR courses because the likelihood of a lay rescuer obtaining a AED with infant defibrillator pads is very low.

There are approximately two dozen types of AED’s available. It is important for rescuers to understand the basic principles of AED use. AED’s typically have two buttons: a shock button and a on/power button. After pushing the on / power button the AED will give instructions on how to operate it.

Tips on AED use:

  • AED pads must be placed on bare skin. The pads can not be placed over top medical patches (nitrod, nicotine, birth control, etc.) or pacemakers. Place the pad below the pacemaker.
  • Adult pads can be used on adults and children. Child pads can not be used on an adult as they do not carry a sufficient shock. The adult pads must be placed on the child no closer than one inch apart. They can also be placed on the front of the chest and on the back (the same way child pads are placed).
  • The AED pads are one time use. Be careful when using gloves (it is mandatory to use gloves) as the pads will adhere to the gloves.  Rescuers should also be careful in the placement of the pads as they can not be removed and used again.  Apply the pads as one would typically apply a band-aid (without touching the adhesive).
  • Unless the victim shows signs of life, the rescuer(s) must always be prepared to continue to do CPR after the analyze and “shock” or “no shock” prompts.
  • Most course guidelines promote rescuers to shave the chest of a hairy victim. However, significant evidence also suggests that the pads will still adhere and shock when placed on a hairy chest. Furthermore, the time required to shave a hairy chest with a single blade razor (typically only single blade razors are placed with AED’s and first aid kits) can take a substantial amount of time. Do your own research and make your decision on whether to follow the guideline to shave the victim’s chest. However, Red Cross and Lifesaving Society guidelines recommend that the rescuer shave the victims chest, if it is hairy, prior to pad placement.
  • Prior to applying the pads, the chest must be dry. The pads will not stick to a wet chest. Wipe off any water or sweat off of the victim prior to pad placement.
  • Victim should not have any part of the body in freestanding or still water. Victim must be in a dry area if possible. Research done by General Electric states that if the victim and rescuer are in the same “puddle” when the shock phase of the AED is occurring the rescuer will not feel any significant shock. Do your own research. However, the Red Cross and Lifesaving Society recommend that rescuers not have the victims in any form of water when using an AED.
  • Rescuers hands should be dry when applying an AED.
  • You can use an AED on victims that have been electrocuted or struck by lightning
  • If the victim is on a conductive metal surface clear all bystanders away from the area, wear non-conductive footwear and latex gloves, and stand when adminstering the shock (try not to move or hold a metal railing)
  • If adminstering oxygen remove from victims face when analyzing and adminstering shock.
  • Use the AED on a pregnant mother. You need to save the mother first before you can save the baby.
  • Continue AED protocols if you come a cross a AICD (autmoated implantable Cardio Defibrillators), however, place the pads approximately 1 inch away from the AICD or any pacemaker.

The material posted in this blog is for information purposes only. To learn how to use an AED and to learn CPR with 2011 AED guidelines take first aid training with Vancouver First Aid Ltd. First aid and CPR training in Surrey is now available.  To register for a first aid course select the class of your choice from the menu bar or from the side bar. You can also contact us via our “contact us” page, by email at or by phone at 778-709-9180. We offer convenient, comfortable and affordable first aid classes throughout the lower mainland. We also offer first aid and CPR recertifications.