AED Myths Debunked

Many participants have fears and concerns with using automated external defibrillators that are not warranted. This page includes the biggest myths about the use of AED’s during first aid and CPR rescues.

AED Myth # 1

You must shave the victims chest before applying a AED. This is one of the most popular myths especially since many instructors claim that first aid kits carry single blade razors which are designed to shave the patients chest prior to applying a AED. However, has anyone ever wondered how long it would take to shave the chest of a hairy adult male victim with a single blade razor? By the time the rescuer shaves the patients chest the victim has likely stopped having any shock-able rhythms, has died or the paramedics have arrived. The AED pads included with modern defibrillators have strong adhesives and will work effectively when placed onto a hairy chest. For more information about not needing to shave the patients chest check out this video.

AED Myth # 2

The AED will shock you if you are in the same puddle of water as the victim during the shock phase. General Electric conducted a study on the amount of shock a rescuer would receive if they were in the same body of water as the victim during the shock phase. The results showed that the victim would receive little to no electricity from the shock (below 1 volt). The electricity wants to travel on the easiest path and that path is from one AED to pad to the other. Rescuers should not be overly concerned about being in the same puddle of the victim when using a AED.

AED Myth # 3

I am worried I will shock a patient and cause more harm than good. What if they don’t need the shock? I don’t want to be responsible for hurting anyone. A rescuer should not be concerned in any way about shocking a patient that does not need it. The AED is designed to analyze the rhythms of the heart and shock only the rhythms in which defibrillation would help. Otherwise the AED does not shock and will not let the rescuer shock the victim. The AED will prompt the rescuer to either check for vitals (the AED might have detected vitals) or continue CPR.

Effective use of a AED with CPR is taught in the majority of first aid and CPR courses. Candidates will learn to effectively use AED pads and shock adult and child victims. Infant AED pads are not currently included in the Canadian CPR program.


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