Understanding the Basics

Before diving into when to use each approach, let’s establish a basic understanding:

  1. CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation): This is a life-saving technique that helps maintain the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain when someone’s heart has stopped or they aren’t breathing properly. It involves chest compressions and, in some cases, rescue breaths.
  2. AED (Automated External Defibrillator): This is a portable device that can send an electric shock to the heart to restore a normal rhythm in cases of sudden cardiac arrest.

When to Use CPR?

  1. Unconscious and Not Breathing: If someone is unconscious and not breathing or only gasping, initiate CPR immediately. Start with chest compressions at a rate of 100-120 compressions per minute.
  2. No AED Around: If there’s no AED available, or while someone is retrieving the AED, begin CPR. Every second counts when it comes to reviving someone.

When to Use AED?

  1. Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA): An AED is designed specifically for instances of SCA. If someone collapses and is unresponsive, and you suspect it’s due to SCA, use the AED.
  2. After Starting CPR: If you’ve initiated CPR and someone brings an AED, switch to the AED. Turn it on and follow the voice prompts.
  3. In Combination with CPR: The ideal approach is to combine the use of an AED with CPR. If you’re with someone else, one can perform CPR while the other prepares the AED.

Why performing CPR usually comes first before using AED

In emergency matters time is always the problem making quick response to be the solution in many cases as it could be life or death case. The use of CPR and AED is critical in saving lives, but one should administer CPR prior to the application of an AED. Let’s delve into the reasons why:

1. Immediate Blood Circulation: The main purpose of CPR, especially for chest compression, is to ensure that there is adequate flow or supply of oxygen rich blood to vital organs such as the brain and heart. Once someone has a cardiac arrest, their hearts fail to pump enough blood leading. 

Prompt initiating CPR ensures a flow of blood in the brain and other organs preventing irreversible damage. It also serves as a temporary measure to provide the brain with oxygen till an advanced procedure, for instance, defibrillation is performed.

2. Preparation Time for AED: Setting up AEDs is, however, time consuming even though they are purposed to be user friendly and give quick shocks. Such tasks include locating an AED, switching it on, putting the pads in the right position and then allowing the machine to interpret the heart’s rhythm. 

This is the time when the victim should be given constant chest compressions to make sure that blood flows continuously. However, as long as one remembers that commencing on CPR is paramount and should never be delayed first, all will be well as long as one remembers that commencing on CPR is paramount and should never be delayed first, all will be well.

3. Enhancing the Effectiveness of AED: Research has demonstrated that performing CPR prior to employing an AED could improve its ability to restore a normal heart rhythm. They do this because CPR provides enough energy or metabolites for a specific type of cellular energy in the heart muscle. 

The heart which has received CPR compressions when AED delivers its shock are more likely to respond positively reversing to the normal heart rhythm compared to that without the CPR compressions.

Image alt text: illustration of how to use AED vs CPR.

Author credit: By Photo: Mrs Kate Rutherford/MOD, OGL v1.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=58295603

Commonly Asked Questions

  1. Can you use an AED on a conscious person? No, AEDs should only be used on someone who is unconscious and not breathing. Using it on a conscious person can be harmful.
  2. What if I’m unsure about when to use AED vs CPR? Always call emergency services first. If unsure, start with CPR until help arrives or an AED is available.
  3. Is it safe to use an AED in wet conditions? Make sure the person’s chest is dry before placing the pads. Avoid using AEDs in water or if the person is lying in a puddle.
  4. Can I hurt someone by using an AED incorrectly? AEDs come with voice-guided instructions. It’s designed to only advise a shock if necessary. While there’s a risk in everything, not acting can be more dangerous.
  5. Do I need formal training to use an AED or perform CPR? While training is beneficial and recommended, anyone can use an AED by following its instructions. For CPR, the hands-only approach (chest compressions) is encouraged if you’re untrained.

Concluding Thoughts

In the debate of AED vs CPR, the most important factor to note is the significance of prompt action. The AEDs are meant for emergency situations when one’s breathing and heart stop.

Meanwhile, CPR is used in a wide array of emergencies.A little action can be the difference between life and death. One should always go through formal training in CPR and AED usage. 

These skills help boost your confidence and prepare you for life-threatening situations where you have to help yourself and others.

In all instances of an emergency, always make sure that you dial emergency services first. Then check the situation out and according to your judgment and the available equipment use AED vs CPR. 

They are meant to maintain blood circulation and pump the heart back in operation with enhanced survival chances before the arrival of skilled assistance.