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We've spoken about CPR and we've spoken a little bit about we are trying to do CPR until the AED arrives. What we're going to do now is just briefly look at what an AED unit is and why we want to use one. An AED is an Automatic External Defibrillator. Now, one of the myths of AED units is that the AED unit or the defibrillator actually starts the heart. But what it's actually doing is it's interrupting the abnormal twitching of the heart so that, hopefully, the pacemakers in the heart will fire off and reset the heart and it would start beating again.
When someone's heart stops, in the sense that we're doing CPR on them, the actual heart doesn't always just stop. Because it's got electrical activity, the electrical activity in the heart is causing it to quiver. It's not actually producing any pulse. So if you actually looked at it, it'd be like maybe a little lump of jelly that is quivering. By delivering a shock to the heart, what that's doing is it's interrupting this electrical activity in the hope that, naturally, it will reset it to then start beating normally.
Now, when we're looking at AED units, we have what's called shockable rhythms and non-shockable rhythms. A shockable rhythm would be when the heart goes into VF, ventricular fibrillation, or pulse-less VT, ventricular tachycardia. Now, from a first aid point of view or AED user point of view, we don't need to worry about the difference because the unit will just detect. Is it shockable or not shockable?
If it's not shockable, this would be if it's on a heart which is beating normally or that there is no electrical activity at all, just a flat line. So the only time that we're going to be using an AED is if it's in VF or VT and the only time we then need to worry about this is when the unit tells us. So AED units are going to arrive through from the emergency services or there'll be one on site, but this is what we're doing CPR for. We're carrying out CPR until that AED unit arrives. And remember, if you're sending someone for help, we need to make sure that you ask them is there an AED on site because the sooner this AED arrives on site, the sooner we can deliver it to somebody, the sooner this person is going to show signs of recovery.