AED Myth Busting (Part 3 of 3)










Myth #9: “AEDs are only used on people who have heart attacks, therefore they are not necessary to have in schools.”

AEDs are designed for use on victims who are in cardiac arrest. Cardiac arrest is defined as failure of the pumping action of the heart, resulting in loss of consciousness and absence of pulse and breathing. Therefore, someone who is having a heart attack but is still conscious will not require an AED. (If the suspected heart attack victim becomes unresponsive and they are not breathing normally, yes, they will require an AED because their heart is failing to pump effectively.)

Contrary to popular belief, children fall victim to cardiac arrest for a number of reasons including trauma, hypothermia, electrolyte imbalances (due to a diet or medication issue), drugs, electrocution and head injuries, etc. There are a number of school boards in North America who are beginning to understand the benefits of having AEDs in each of their schools. It’s exciting to see progress happening!


Myth #10: “If the victim starts breathing normally again, I can remove the AED.”

If the victim begins to breath again on their own, whether it is after they have been shocked or not, do not remove the AED. If the victim is breathing and has a normal heart rhythm again, perfect! The AED can only help from this point onwards because it will continue to reassess the victim’s heart rhythm and audibly tell you that everything is okay. If the victim’s condition changes, the AED will continue to monitor and tell you to shock if necessary. DO NOT take it off – let the paramedics remove it once they arrive.


Myth #11: “Once the paramedics arrive, I can start packing up the AED and return it to its place of storage.”

Hold your horses. Before you put the AED away, the paramedics might want to have a look at the unit and they may take away with them a memory stick device that stored all of the information about the situation. Information pertaining to how many “shocks” versus “no shocks” were administered over what period of time will be captured within the device. This arms the medical pros with additional information about the situation to better help with treatment. Knowledge really is power.


Myth #12: “If the AED says ‘shock not advised’, that means the victim is okay and we should just leave him be.”

Incorrect. Like I mentioned before, a defibrillator cannot start a heart, it can simply try to reset a heart that is beating irregularly (which is therefore not effectively pumping nutrient and oxygen-rich blood to the rest of the body). So if a victim’s heart is not beating whatsoever (flat line) there will be “no shock advised” because the machine is unable to start a heart that is not moving at all. The AED will however tell you to “continue CPR”, which is exactly what you need to do to try and restore some type of shockable rhythm, as well as manually pump blood around the body to keep vital organs healthy. Therefore, stay with the victim until the paramedics arrive and follow the directions given by the AED.

Now that we have busted all of these myths, the moral of the story is: if you have an AED available in an emergency situation, have it ready to go in case the victim becomes unresponsive and is not breathing normally. Don’t second guess yourself or psyche yourself out. Remember that AEDs are designed to be used by someone with no training, and the device will only shock if it detects a “shockable rhythm” (ie: you don’t have to worry about it wrongfully shocking a person with a normal heartbeat and killing them). YOU ultimately press the button if a shock is advised. YOU are in control of the situation and AEDs are designed to enable greater control of the situation. AEDs truly do save lives.


Be calm, be confident & think common sense!

AED Myth Busting (Part 2 of 3)







AED Myth #5: “AEDs replace the need for CPR.”

CPR is used in conjunction with AEDs and one is not mutually exclusive of the other. By continuing to perform CPR when the AED instructs you to do so, along side the AED’s continuous monitoring of heart, the victim’s chances of survival skyrocket. The statistics move from approximately 7% survival rate with CPR only to 90% survival rate with an AED & CPR if attached within 1 minute of victim collapse.


AED Myth #6: “If I only have adult AED pads available and I’m dealing with a child victim, I cannot use the AED.”

There is a saying I always like to use in my training sessions and I find that it helps people see cardiac arrest in a different light: you can’t be deader than dead. What I mean to say is that if a victim is not breathing, their heart has likely stopped beating (or is likely to stop soon), which makes for a victim who is “clinically dead”. Although it’s more advantageous to use child pads that have lower voltage than adult pads, if a child’s heart is not functioning properly the adult pads are worth a try. You can’t be deader than dead.


AED Myth #7: “The victim can’t be wearing any jewelry or have any piercings in order to use the AED.”

This is an interesting myth because there is some truth to it. If your victim has a nipple ring, for example, you want to avoid placing the AED pads directly beside the piercing. If the victim is wearing metal necklaces, you also want to avoid having the necklaces near or touching the pads. The general rule of thumb is to have the pads approximately 1 inch away from any and all metal jewelry. If the metal is any closer than 1 inch, you run the risk of burning the victim with the electric shock, as well as diverting much needed electrical energy away from the heart.


AED Myth #8: “I can’t use an AED on a pregnant victim.”

The best way to save the baby is to save Mom. Here is a great article about this very subject.


Be calm, be confident & think common sense!




Stay tuned for the last blog post of this series: Myth Busting: AED Edition (Part 3 of 3).

AED Myth Busting (part 1 of 3)

Myth Busting: AED Edition (Part 1 of 3)

Understanding Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) is a critically important in our society because these devices really do save lives (which I have experienced first hand) and they are so simple to use. There are a lot of myths surrounding AEDs and there really doesn’t have to be, so let’s clear things up! There are so many myths, in fact, that I will be breaking this blog post into 3 parts.


AED Myth #1: “Defibrillators can only be used by those who are trained and certified to use them.”

The truth is that although AED training will help you feel more confident using an AED, these devices are designed for use by people with little or no first aid training. The Good Samaritan’s Act within the Province of Ontario (as well as other similar acts throughout Canada) protects first aiders from potential legality issues resulting from helping with an emergency situation. As long as you have used common sense in helping in an emergency (no open heart surgeries, please) and acted in good faith, you cannot be held liable for the outcome of the situation (whether trained or untrained in first aid & CPR).


AED Myth #2: “Defibrillators are complicated and difficult to use.”

Defibrillators walk the rescuer through each instruction step-by-step and are extremely simple to use. If the victim is unresponsive and not breathing normally:

1. Remove adhesive backing from pads and place on the victim’s bare chest (as depicted in the image on the pads)

2. Turn machine on

3. Follow the prompts and press the shock button if advised

That’s it. An AED is like a pocket paramedic and you should feel like you are in very capable hands with one in operation. Even if you never have to shock the victim, this device is an monitor that will provide continuous feedback about the very important thing you can’t monitor by sight: the heart.


AED Myth #3: “An AED will start a heart.”

This is a very common misconception, one that I too believed before becoming an AED Instructor. AED’s DO NOT start hearts that are not moving whatsoever (otherwise known as a flat line). Instead they “de-fibrillate” by shocking a heart that is in fibrillation (not beating normally) in hopes of resetting the heart to normal sinus rhythm. Think of an AED like the reset button on your computer. When you computer acts up and is not working normally you press the restart button in hopes that once the computer turns off and then on again, everything will be working normally. This is the exact same principal as the AED.


AED Myth #4: “I should ask someone to get me an AED only after I have done several rounds of CPR.”

If you are asking someone to call 911, you should also be asking someone to find a defibrillator for you. It’s important that you not delay the retrieval of an AED, even if your victim is conscious and breathing. Things change very quickly and the survival rates of cardiac arrest victims multiply ten fold with quick defibrillation.

It is critical to understand that defibrillation is the only cure for a cardiac arrest victim and the importance of quick defibrillation cannot be underestimated. It is therefore vital to use an AED as soon as physically possible (if the victim is unresponsive and not breathing normally), if one is available.

Something to keep in mind is that not everyone will know what an “AED” or “defibrillator” is (I made this mistake first hand), so it’s important to ask if they do in fact know what it is, as well as where it is. Look them in the eye, be clear in your language and if you don’t think know what they’re doing, send someone else to get one too.


Be calm, be confident & think common sense!



Stay tuned for Myth Busting: AED Edition (Part 2 of 3).

AED How To

AED’s (Automated External Defibrillators) can be intimidating, especially if you’ve never had the chance to open one up and understand what’s inside.

It’s a lot easier than most people think to be able to operate an AED and save a life. To show you just how simple it is, we’ve created a Quick Reference Guide to help you understand how defibrillators work. Click the image below to be taken to our Resources page where you can download the PDF.






Did You Know? In Ontario, you are protected under the Good Samaritan’s Act if you use a defibrillator as directed, no matter the outcome. What’s most important is you tried to help.

Be calm, be confident & think common sense!