AED Frequently Asked Questions
How to maintain and use an AED
What should I do if I use my AED in a rescue?
First of all, congratulations! No matter the outcome of the event, you should be proud that you did everything you could to help prevent unnecessary death due to cardiac arrest.
There are a number of steps you should take, including buying new AED electrode pads, checking the battery life, and potentially involving one of our team to review the details of the event. Call our friendly team on 0800 233 342 to learn more about the steps we recommend following after an AED is used and how we can help.
How do I know if I need to upgrade the software for my AED?
As a Heart Saver customer, we will contact you to let you know when there is a software update available to get your AED up to the latest standards.
Why doesn’t my AED show any status on its indicator (e.g. no blinking light)?
All AED units on the market today perform self-checks to report the operability of the device. If the device “fails” a self-check this will be reported visually and audibly in most cases. If the device is completely out of batteries the AED unit won’t be able to perform a self-check at all and the status indicator will be blank (i.e. there won’t be enough power to indicate that it has failed). We recommend that you IMMEDIATELY contact us and we’ll help assess the status of your AED and offer remediation options.
Can an AED be used on a person who’s wet, like someone who was swimming and was pulled out of a pool?
See the question about using a defibrillator on a wet surface. Additionally, before placing the electrode pads on the patient’s chest, use a clean, dry towel or any other clean, dry clothing or fabric to dry the skin. Proper adhesion of the electrode pads is critical to an AED working
Can an AED be used on a wet surface?
Ideally, defibrillation should be performed on a dry surface. Bystanders not involved in the rescue should move as far off the wet surface as possible. If the patient cannot be safely and quickly moved to a dry surface, rescuers which must be on the wet surface should avoid direct contact with the patient, and should avoid
Are AED electrode pads interchangeable among different brands of AED?
No. Each manufacturer has their own proprietary means of attaching AED electrode pads to their AED devices and they are not interchangeable. Purchase only manufacturer-approved electrode pads designed for your make and model AED.
Are AED electrode pads reusable?
No. AED electrode pads are one-time use and must be disposed of afterward. They can be placed in a standard trash receptacle as they are non-toxic. Replace used AED electrode pads as soon as possible with a fresh set so your AED is ready for a sudden cardiac emergency at all times.
Do children and adults need different AED electrode pads?
When available, infant/child or pediatric electrode pads (or an infant/child key) should be used when performing a rescue on children under 25kgs. If no pediatric options are available, use adult electrode pads instead (and, if necessary to avoid having the electrode pads touch each other, use the alternate front and back electrode pad placement for infants).
Why do AED electrode pads expire?
AED electrode pads contain an adhesive, a metal electrode, and a conductive gel. Over time, the gel which helps conduct the electricity in the electrode pads can cause the metal electrode to break down, and manufacturers cannot guarantee the AED will be fully effective if this happens. This is why they put expiration dates on the packaging. Most AED electrode pads have an 18 to 24 month expiration date, although some manufacturers offer electrode pads which will last 4-5 years. Once used, the electrode pads must be disposed of and cannot be reused.
How do I know when my AED’s electrode pads need to be replaced?
Depending on the manufacturer, electrode pads have a shelf life of between one and five years. Check the expiration date on the outside of the electrode pads for the actual expiration date. You can purchase more electrode pads through Heart Saver.
When my AED arrives, what should I do to set it up?
Since each make and model of AED is slightly different, the most important thing you should do first is read the instruction manual. It will walk you through your AED’s particular setup and first self-test. Make sure you tell your team or group where the AED will be stored, so that EVERYONE knows where to access it in an emergency.
Should the AED battery be in the machine at all times?
Yes, your AED battery should be in the AED at all times so your AED can run self-checks and verify the AED will be ready in a rescue. In the case of an emergency, every second counts. Finding and inserting the battery into an AED takes up valuable life-saving time.
How do I know my AED is functioning properly?
Most AEDs include a status indicator that allows you to visually determine whether your AED is functioning properly. The status indicator is usually a check mark or flashing light signifying the AED has passed its self-check. All AEDs run self-checks (some daily, some weekly, some monthly), which automatically make sure your AED is functioning properly. Because the AED is performing this automatic self-check, you do not need to turn the device on and off to make sure it's working. In fact, manually turning the AED unit on and off to check its status will drain the battery, thus reducing its useful life. We recommend an annual AED verification check, performed by Heart Saver using our industry-leading analysis equipment. To find out more, visit our AED Verification page.
How do I know when my AED’s battery needs to be replaced?
When it comes time to replace your AED's battery, the unit may:
- Fail self-checks
- Have a failing status indicator (red light or mark)
- Not have enough power to operate
These indicate the battery may need replacement.
What’s this date on my battery?
The date shown on an AED battery can be a manufactured date, install-by date, or expiration date.
Batteries that contain an expiration date should be used and properly disposed of on or before the expiration date listed.
Batteries that contain a manufactured or install-by date should provide power to your AED for a specific number of years (which varies by brand) from the date the battery was installed in your device.
Helpful hint: For batteries that use a manufactured date or install by date, use a permanent marker to write the date when you installed the battery into the AED. Doing this will allow you to later cross-reference the estimated expiration date and not be forced to remember when you installed the battery years after the fact. Contact us to learn more about how we can use software to help track all of the important expiration dates for your AED program or if you'd like to get answers to your unique situation.
Why is my AED beeping?
An AED may beep for several reasons:
- Disconnected electrode pads: If your AED is beeping and requires electrode pads to be pre-connected, make sure your electrode pads are connected to the AED
- Low battery: Check the charge of your battery to see if its life is depleted, and confirm the battery isn't expired. If it's expired, order a replacement battery.
- Expired electrode pads: Check the expiration date of your electrode pads. Electrode pads can dry out with age or if they become unsealed, so it's important to make sure they're in good working order. If they're expired or not usable, replace the electrodes.
- Internal circuitry issue: If everything else checks out, the beeping may be caused by an internal circuitry issue. Contact Heart Saver for help with this.
If you need replacement electrode pads or batteries, contact Heart Saver and one of our friendly team will help you.
Buying an AED
Do you ship internationally?
Yes – we supply Australia and the Pacific Islands. Please contact our team on 0800 233 342 for more information on this.
What happens when a product is on backorder?
When we receive an order that can’t be shipped on the same day it’s received, we’ll let you know right away so you know where your order stands.
What is the soonest my order can ship?
We have a good inventory of AED supplies in stock and ready to courier the day orders are received. Then, unfortunately, it’s at the mercy of the courier company! On occasion, AED manufacturers and other suppliers go on nationwide backorders and we’re unable to fulfill your order as quickly as we’d prefer but we will inform you of this and keep you updated throughout the process.
Will an AED save everyone in sudden cardiac arrest?
Unfortunately, no. Sometimes, the damage to a patient’s heart, which caused the sudden cardiac arrest, is too extensive and therefore the heart cannot recover. Sometimes a patient is found too late in the cardiac arrest process to be brought back. The longer the delay before CPR and defibrillation are administered, the less likely their chances of survival. Ideally, CPR should begin immediately upon collapse and defibrillation should occur no more than 3-5 minutes after collapse. For every minute which passes from drop to shock, a patient’s likelihood of recovery diminishes by 10%. CPR is critical to keep blood flowing to the brain during cardiac arrest because without it, the brain begins to die within 4-6 minutes of collapse.
Why are AEDs so expensive?
In a nutshell, an AED is a medical device which uses specialty electronic components to accurately analyze heart rhythms in order to effectively save someone’s life. The amount of research and development that goes into these units is extensive and they are rigorously tested to ensure they will work when called upon to perform. Consider the impact an AED can have on someone’s life!
Why should I buy an AED?
Cardiac arrest is the leading cause of death in NZ adults and the early use of an AED and CPR gives your patient the best chance of survival. The latest Health & Safety regulations outline that company directors must take reasonable steps to ensure that their organization meets its health and safety obligations. There are several reasons you may want to consider placing an AED at your business location. Is the safety of your customers, staff, and/or clients is important to you? Do you own a business which sees a wide cross-section of the population come through its doors on a regular basis? Are your customers, staff, or clients at a higher risk for sudden cardiac arrest (such as the elderly, or persons with compromised health in a health-oriented business)? Do your patrons engage in activities involving physical strain such as a fitness-oriented business? If you answered yes to any of these questions you may want to consider having an AED available. Keep in mind sudden cardiac arrest can happen to anyone, anytime, regardless of age, gender, or physical fitness.
If you or a member of your household has been diagnosed with a heart-related condition or suffered previous heart-related events, you may consider purchasing an AED for home use. It should be noted if you live alone, or have minimal contact with other persons on a daily basis, having an AED may prove fruitless as it requires another person to administer CPR and use the AED properly.
There are so many different AEDs to choose from. How do I know which one is right for me?
If you’d like advice, our friendly team would love to help! They know our range of AEDs inside out and can advise you on which unit will best suit your scenario. Call us on 0800 233 342.
General Information About AEDs
What is an AED?
An AED (automated external defibrillator) is a portable device designed to read the heart rhythm of a person in sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) and deliver a potentially life-saving shock. All AEDs on the market today are intuitive, easy-to-use, and can save a life.
Do I have to be trained in order to use an AED?
Even though AEDs are designed for easy use by untrained laypersons, we recommend formal training in their operation, along with CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) techniques outlined by the NZ Resuscitation Council. Training courses can help potential responders learn of the signs and symptoms of cardiac arrest and, therefore, what to do before, during, and after an emergency situation. Heart Saver offers AED/CPR training courses as well as a range of first aid courses. Contact us to learn how we can come on-site to train your team!
How does one use an AED with CPR?
An AED will prompt a rescuer when to begin CPR and, depending on the make and model of the AED, will provide a metronome or beeps to keep you on track for the rate of compressions, while some AEDs can provide real-time feedback on the rate and/or depth of compressions. The AED will prompt when to stop compressions for analysis and shock, if needed.
What’s the difference between a hospital defibrillator and an AED?
Advanced Life Support (ALS) defibrillators are used by healthcare professionals in hospitals and ambulances. These devices allow professionals to monitor the patient rhythm and manually intervene if it is determined that a shock is required. In addition, most of these units offer an Advisory or AED function in which waveform analysis and shock recommendations are made based upon sophisticated algorithms contained within the device. They are meant for use by trained medical professionals only.
An AED is considered a public access device designed to be used by anyone, whether they are trained or not. The device walks the user through the rescue until a paramedic arrives or the person is revived. It analyzes the heart rhythm to determine if a shock is needed and will not shock unless it detects a shockable rhythm, no matter how many times you press the shock button. It uses disposable adhesive electrode pads that deliver shocks at a set level of energy (measured in joules). Some AEDs use escalating energy (higher joules) for additional shocks on the same victim.
Where is a good location to place my AED?
AEDs should be placed in an easily-accessible, highly visible location within 1½ – 2 minutes of any possible sudden cardiac arrest event. Ideally, your AED will be in a cabinet outdoors that can be accessed 24/7 so it’s available to the public at any time, but this is a personal choice.
Who can use/operate an AED?
Anyone who can follow the directions on the AED can use it. All AEDs use both visual and vocal prompts to walk a user through a rescue. It requires no strength or stamina – even a child can deliver a shock. (It should be noted some strength and stamina is required for CPR, however.)
Are AEDs safe to use on anyone?
Yes, AEDs are safe to use on anyone. Children under age 8 and 25kgs do require special pads or a special AED accessory to “dial down” the power to levels appropriate to their size. An AED will not shock unless it detects a shockable heart rhythm (Ventricular Fibrillation or Ventricular Tachycardia).
Why is an AED better than CPR?
An AED works in conjunction with cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Both are critical components in the Chain of Survival. CPR keeps oxygenated blood flowing to the brain and vital organs, and an AED provides an electrical shock to help the heart reset itself to its natural rhythm.
If I did not purchase my AED from Heart Saver, can I still buy electrode pads and batteries for my AED?
Yes, Heart Saver provides replacement parts (electrode pads and batteries) and accessories for many AED brands.
Is my AED safe to touch? What if I accidentally shock someone or myself?
An AED will only deliver a shock if the electrode pads are applied and the AED detects a shockable heart rhythm in a patient – they are designed so it’s impossible to accidentally shock yourself or someone else.
Thanks to the AED Superstore for such fantastic information!