Frequently Asked Questions

AED Defibrillator FAQs

What is an AED?

AED stands for Automated External Defibrillator, which is a device that can correct an irregular heartbeat in a cardiac arrest victim.

How does an AED work?

An AED analyses the electrical activity of a victim’s heart through the electrode pads that are applied to the patient’s chest.

If a shockable rhythm is detected, the AED will advise a shock to restore the normal rhythm.

What may an AED do or say?

Once turned on, an AED will guide the rescuer with clear instruction. Some AEDs have a screen that gives visual directions. Instructions can include;
“Stay calm…”
“Check Responsiveness”
“Call for help…. Call emergency services now”
“Cut or tear clothing to expose the patients bare chest.”
“Open pad packet.”
“Attach pads to patient’s bare chest.”
“Stand clear….. Analysing heart rhythm…..Stand clear….. Analysing heart rhythm…”
“Stand clear…Shock advised.”
“Stand clear…Shock will be delivered in…” (fully-auto AED)
“Press flashing shock button.” (semi-auto AED)
“Start CPR…continue CPR….”
“Push harder…good compressions.”
“Push hard at least 5 centimetres…Lean over the patient.”
“Push in time with the metronome.”

How many shocks will the AED give during rescue?

It is uncertain how many shocks will be administered during rescue.
What we do know is an AED will analyse and look for a shockable heart rhythm and advise if a shock will be delivered or not. The AED will advise the responder to stop CPR every two minutes, in order to analyse and potentially shock, until a normal heart rhythm is restored.

How do I know when to shock someone?

An AED will advise when a shock is to be administered. The AED is making this decision, not the responder.

What if I use the AED and it doesn’t shock the victim?

If no shock is advised, it may prompt you to continue with the CPR so that it can analyse the heart rhythm again after two minutes.

How will I know when to use a defib?

If someone is unresponsive and not breathing or breathing is not normal, start CPR immediately and use an AED as soon as available.

Can I use a defib on a child?

Yes. Most defibs have child pads to be used on children below the age of 8 or someone weighing below 25kg. Some defibs have a “Child Mode” button.

Can I hurt someone with an AED, or shock a person that isn’t in cardiac arrest?

No. An AED is a medical device that analyses the heart for a shockable rhythm. The AED decides whether to administer a shock or not. You cannot accidentally deliver a defib shock. If an AED is used on a person who is responsive and breathing normally, it will not administer a shock.

Can I get hurt using a defib?

Using an AED is safe for the responder as it offers very clear instructions. The AED will advise when a shock is being delivered and will instruct the user to stay clear from the patient. The responder should hold their hands up to also show other bystanders not to touch the patient while the AED is analysing.

Can anyone use an AED, even if they aren’t trained in CPR?

Yes. An AED provides clear instructions to help guide the user. It is designed to be user friendly so that anyone is able to use it even without CPR training.

Can I be held liable for using an AED if it doesn’t work?

No. There are Good Samaritan laws to protect responders from liability.

What if the victim has a pacemaker or internal defib?

If the pacemaker or internal defibrillator was not able to restore the victims normal heart rhythm, then resume rescue as usual, do not delay CPR and AED use. AED pad placement should be away from the (suspected) internal device. These internal devices are most commonly located on the upper left hand side of the person’s chest (near the heart). AED pads placement is on the upper right hand side of the person’s chest and lower left hand side of the person’s chest, (away from the heart).

What is in the AED Prep kit?

An AED prep kit contains items such as; scissors, surgical razor, gloves, CPR face shield, and paper towel wipe, that may be required during AED use.

Can I attach the defib pads if the victim has chest hair?

To ensure that the defib pads will stick, the chest should be dry and free of excessive hair. The AED prep kit contains items that will help with cleaning the area, such as a razor and wipes.

Do I have to remove the bra when using an AED?

Yes, AED pads need to be applied to the patient’s bare chest. A bra should be totally removed/cut away in case the bra has a metal strip which could interfere with the correct use of the AED.

Do I remove the defib pads if the victim is revived?

No. Wait for the paramedics to arrive and take over. It is not advisable to remove defib pads in case the victim goes back into cardiac arrest, meaning they are again not responsive and not breathing. The AED will keep analysing their heart rhythm and provide instruction to responders.

Can anyone own an AED?

Yes. An AED is a life saving device that anyone can own.


What is CPR?

CPR stands for cardiopulmonary resuscitation. CPR is a lifesaving technique that can be used in emergency situations. CPR is performed when someone has stopped breathing, or their heartbeat has stopped. It involves hard and fast chest compressions, and it can be performed by both untrained and trained bystanders.

When do I perform CPR?

If someone is unresponsive and not breathing or breathing is not normal, start CPR immediately.

How do I know when to start CPR?

CPR should be started immediately on someone who is unresponsive and not breathing, or not breathing normally.


When do I stop CPR?

Stop CPR once the person becomes responsive or normal breathing returns, or you are too exhausted to continue and have no bystander support or once the paramedics arrive and advise they will take over.

Do I need to give mouth-to-mouth resuscitation when doing CPR?

The current Australian Resuscitation Council guidelines for CPR is 30 chest compressions and 2 rescue breaths. If a responder is not willing or able to perform rescue breaths, chest compressions only or hands-only CPR can be performed.
The victim may have vomit or bleeding from the mouth, which may pose danger to the responder performing mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

What if I get tired while doing CPR?

It is common for rescuers to experience fatigue while performing CPR. It is advisable to ask bystanders for help and take over after two minutes of compressions to maintain high quality CPR. Minimise interruptions during handover.

Should I check for pulse?

The current Australian Resuscitation Council guidelines do not require bystanders to check for the victim’s pulse. Follow the DRSABCD.

Is DRSABCD applicable for children?

Yes, for children, one hand is to be used when performing CPR compressions. Also, most AEDs have child pads available to accommodate children.

Should I learn CPR?

Yes! CPR is a life-saving skill that should be learned by everyone regardless of age and experience. CPR training should be renewed every year.


Do I need to do CPR if I have a defib?

CPR and AED should be used together. An AED is not a substitute for CPR.

Should an AED be used for anyone who needs CPR?

Yes. If a person suffers a sudden cardiac arrest, administer CPR and use an AED as soon as available.

How does an AED help CPR?

An AED offers instructions to help guide the rescuer with CPR. The AED uses a metronome to set the beat and maintain the 100-120 compressions per minute.

Some AEDs have a screen that gives visual directions on CPR. Some AEDs give feedback on the quality of the compression depth and rate.

When is an AED used during CPR?

As soon as an AED becomes available, it should immediately be put to use. The earlier an AED is administered, the greater the chance of survival.

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