Those minutes that it takes for emergency medical aid to arrive can make a huge difference in whether the person survives in cases of cardiac arrest.  How much of a difference? On average, the accredited standard is a max of 8 minutes for urban, 12 minutes for suburban, and 18 minutes for rural, but to be frank, most departments, particularly when staffed by volunteers, usually won’t hit those numbers and the average will be longer, sometimes much longer.  It’s not difficult to do the math with the Red Cross’ numbers and the average response time numbers to see that having an AED on hand and knowing how to use it drastically ups the odds of you or a loved one surviving a cardiac arrest. The good news is that the price for buying an AED has dropped dramatically in recent years, such as with this Home Defibrillator, which isn’t that much more than many people spend on a computer, but unlike a computer, could save your life or someone you love.
But whether you end up getting one for your home or not, many businesses, schools, restaurants, and the like are starting to have these mounted to walls, so even if you don’t have one, it’s good for you to familiarize yourself with the process of using one before the emergency situation presents itself. Defibrillation is the process of delivering a dose of electrical energy through the heart in the hopes that its normal electrical pathways begin to work normally. Once your heart goes into cardiac arrest, the only way to get its electrical system to work properly again is to send a massive (compared to the amount the heart gives itself) amount of electrical energy to stop (yes, stop) all the electrical activity in the heart (known as depolarization).
When your heart is beating normally, its muscle cells are receiving an electrical shock approximately 60-100 times per minute. The specific set of cells that regulate the heart rate (in most people) are called the Sinoatrial node or SA node for short. When these foci start to beat on their own, they can create an electrical impulse that simply doesn’t create the mechanical squeeze necessary for blood flow, thus no pulse. So should there be no electrical impulse at all, like say when someone is “flat-lined”, called asystole, then shocking is pointless, since you would need an electrical impulse to create a beat.
When someone goes into cardiac arrest, the most common heart rhythm present is known as ventricular fibrillation. Once you open the AED, it will tell you a three step process to shock someone, in three different ways. You cannot plug in the pads incorrectly as the manufacturers only allow them to be plugged in one way.
Since cardiac arrest is the number one “natural” cause of death in the United states any person in cardiac arrest will require an electrical shock, and because AED technology has progressed to the point of allowing just about anyone to give this shock, defibrillation is #1 on our top 5 first aid tricks everyone should know. Some people have suggested that CPR be #1 and not #2, since it increases the person’s chance of survival so significantly. I was taught that the SAN is completely, 100% independent of the brain and nervous system, as in it generates it’s own pulses regardless of what any neurotransmitters etc are telling it? Wait, I’ve just thought about it and it makes sense, otherwise how would it know when to speed up the heart etc? Find Us On YouTube!Subscribe today to check out our free Daily Knowledge Youtube video series! If you know someone who’s suffering from epilepsy, make sure that you have basic first aid training so you know what to do during and after an epileptic fit. In a major 2010 change, the American Heart Association said that rapid, deep presses on the chest of an adult cardiac arrest victim until help arrives, works just as well as standard CPR for one lay rescuer.
Experts hope bystanders now will be more willing to jump in and help if they see someone collapse.
Uninterrupted chest compressions 100 times a minute, until EMS workers take over or an automated external defibrillator is available to restore a normal heart rhythm. This action should be taken only for adults who unexpectedly collapse, stop breathing and are unresponsive. A child who collapses is more likely to primarily have breathing problems, and in that case, mouth-to-mouth breathing should be used.
According to the American Red Cross, after a person experiences cardiac arrest, the person’s chance of surviving drops by 7%-10% per minute until treated with defibrillation. Also, in many places, such as New York State, you can get as much as a $500 tax credit for each Defibrillator unit purchased, which further cuts down on the cost of this life saving device.


This procedure is so important that creators of the devices have developed the technology to the state that just about anyone can perform it- from a 7 year old in grade school to the doctors in an emergency room.
The mechanical function of the heart is governed by the electrical system within the heart. The SA node (pacemaker of the heart) sits in the upper portion of the R atria near the entrance of the superior vena cava. In an attempt not to give a physiology lecture of ungodly length, I will simply say that the main two electrolytes involved are sodium and potassium.
When the SA node becomes damaged, or simply isn’t working properly, other parts of the heart start to take over to create the heartbeat. When this happens, if you “shock” all of these foci, you get them all to depolarize at the same time. So when you see those heroes on the TV and movies shocking someone with a flat-line, if they were actually doctors, be assured that their license to practice medicine would be reviewed after that was discovered.
This is when all those foci in the bottom of your heart begin to fire off at the same time.
Many governmental organizations require them to be present in publicly funded buildings, like schools and court houses. I chose defibrillation as #1 because CPR alone will not make their heart start beating again. Witnessing an epileptic attack is frightening at first, but panicking will only make things worse for you and for the one who needs your help. There’s a possibility that another seizure might occur so there should be someone watching over them. Hands-only CPR is simpler and easier to remember and removes a big barrier for people skittish about mouth-to-mouth breathing.
That also applies to adults who suffer lack of oxygen from a near-drowning, drug overdose or carbon monoxide poisoning.
That electrical system, in turn, can be affected by neurotransmitters from the brain (or fancy pacemakers created by the Dr. When the SA node sends out and electrical shock, it immediately shocks the atria (the top chambers of the heart). The hope is that the SA node, or some other foci, will take over and create a pulse producing rhythm on its own.
Several studies have found that when using an AED there is no difference in survival rate after application of shock delivery between lay people as young as 7 years old doing it or doctors.  This isn’t brain surgery.
Sadly, the brain’s delicate and intricate construction makes it difficult to pinpoint the exact cause of a person’s epileptic seizure. Most are confused afterwards or have blanked out, so talk to them calmly and slowly and gently guide them away. This is also the time to check their mouth and make sure that there’s nothing blocking the airway.
Long answer: The exchange of electrolytes across specialized cells within the heart build up a differing electrical potential on either side of the cell. The pulse then gets “held up” in another set of cells called the Atrioventricular node, or AV node for short. The reason why they normally don’t is that the SA node “overrides” them and they accept the impulse from it, instead of trying to create one on their own. They can be bought at several national retailers, and doctors often prescribe them to patients at risk of cardiac arrest. CPR just extends the amount of time a person can be in cardiac arrest and still have this defibrillation work.


But make sure that you clear your surroundings, move furniture and other objects away from the person having a seizure. Call 911 if the victim is having difficulty breathing even after the seizures have stopped.
There are some First Aid and CPR courses that would touch on how to respond to an epileptic fit. But since we’re talking about shocking someone, we’ll only focus on the electrical system of the heart.
When this electrical potential reaches a certain amount, it discharges and sends a shock down another unique set of cells within the heart, causing a shock and thus the contraction. The impulse then travels down to the bundle of His (no, not the bundle of hers, sorry ladies ;-)) and then to two pathways called the right and left bundle branches. This creates the differing electrical potential that builds up until the point of discharge because sodium and potassium have different electrical potentials. Because it’s known that this is the most common rhythm, and the only way to fix it is with a shock, the engineers of the world have come up with a way that everyone can deliver this shock when needed. One study showed that communities with people trained in CPR and AED use had twice as many victims survive a cardiac arrest compared to communities using CPR only. Most people can do them, and knowing them all will help in a very wide range of emergency situations.
Ask your community institutions if they’re conducting classes on this or check if there are workplace approved Programs that teach first aid for seizures.
Should you want to know how the brain governs it, I direct you to the many medical schools around the country! Then it’s transmitted to the rest of the Ventricles (lower chambers of the heart) through what are called Purkinje fibers. Other electrolytes also help in creating this differential, and they are calcium and magnesium. Good quality CPR and rapid defibrillation together will give the person in cardiac arrest the greatest chance of survival. I encourage everyone to take a first aid and CPR classes if you are interested in knowing more. For how exactly all these electrolytes cross the cells membrane, I will only say here that it would take way too long to explain in this article; just trust me on this one, they do.
It will read something like: turn on the machine, place the pads as shown, and press the shock button.
All together the harmony created by this yin and yang system of electrical and mechanical systems come together to make that wonderfully thumping thing inside your chest!
You too can roll your eyes at me and frequently glance at your watch as I attempt to cram a seemingly never ending stream of medical knowledge into your head! Once the machine is turned on, it will begin to tell you to “place pads on patient’s bare chest, plug in pads connecter next to flashing light.” It will continue to tell you this until you do.
Once you do, the machine will then tell you not to touch the patient, as it is analyzing the heart rhythm. If the machine sees that the person is in ventricular fibrillation, it will tell you something like “shock advised. Press the flashing light to deliver the shock.” If the shock is not advised, it will tell you that as well.



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