Do you remember being little and seeing all the cartoons rub defibrillator pads together, yell “CLEAR!”, and proceed to electrocute the antagonist? I feel like everyone’s been a kid pretending to do that at least once. Well, with how common AEDs are becoming, you may actually get the chance to use one someday, but hopefully not.
AEDs (Automatic External Defibrillator) are pretty much exactly what those cartoons depicted, except you don’t get to press the pads down to shock the person. You can still yell “CLEAR!” if you want though. But a lot of people put so much effort into these things that anyone can use them as long as they can follow simple directions. The machine is so smart that it doesn’t even move onto the next step until you’re ready—until you get to the CPR part but I’ll get to that.
There are printed instructions on the machine that show you where to put the pads and it may show them on the screen as well, all while passive-aggressively telling you to place the pads. It then checks for a pulse, so make sure you’re not touching the person because it will sense your pulse and be useless to the victim. It also will NOT produce an electric shock if it finds a pulse, so you’re safe.
The surprisingly jarring part is when the AED moves on to CPR. It gives a loud chiming or shouts “Press! Press! Press!” repeatedly to give you a beat for compressions and then reminds you to give two breaths. After a while, the machine will then ask you to stay clear and check for a pulse, starting the cycle all over again.
One thing to remember, the chest must be bare when placing the pads, meaning you might have to shave a man’s chest or remove a bra; both kind of...iffy tasks, but they must be done! The hair will reduce skin contact and make sensing pulses more difficult while the wire in a bra, or any other metal on the person, will leave a nice burn mark after the shock is given.
Still, in short, as long as you do as the AED instructs, you will be okay until emergency services arrive.