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Programs > Health & Safety > AED

Automated External Defibrillators - AEDS

Saving a Life Is as Easy as A - E - D

In the time it takes you to read this page, sudden cardiac arrest will have claimed another victim.

  • In the past year 250,000 Americans died of sudden cardiac arrest:  nearly one death every two minutes.
  • Up to 100,000 of these deaths could have been prevented if someone had initiated the Cardiac Chain of Survival and an automated external defibrillator (AED) had been available for immediate use at the time of the emergency.
  • 9 out of 10 people will die without early access to defibrillation.
  • Every minute it takes EMS to arrive, the person's chance of survival goes down 10%.
  • The national survival rate on the average is 5%.
  • In areas where early access defibrillation programs were put into effect, such as Seattle, Washington, the survival rate jumped to 30-40%.

American Red Cross courses combine CPR training with instruction in automated external defibrillation; the two skills needed to save the life of a sudden cardiac arrest victim.  Currently, AED training is an integral part of our Adult CPR/AED and Standard First Aid courses.

In addition, general AED information is provided in CPR courses that do not teach AED skills.  We invite you to learn more about the exciting technology and training that could save the life of a family member, a friend or possibly your own.

Can the Red Cross assist in the purchase of an AED?
To help the Red Cross meet its mission of saving lives, agreements have been established with AED manufacturers to allow Red Cross chapters the opportunity to facilitate the purchase of AED units and provide CPR and AED training to AED purchasers.

As a nonprofit organization, all revenue generated from classes and from the sales of AEDs stays in the community and goes to support other programs like disaster relief, youth programs, HIV/AIDS education, programs for the elderly, and more.  The price is equal to that of the manufacturer's, but there are more amenities included with the purchase of the units ordered from the Red Cross.  The American Red Cross has been around since 1881 . . . and we'll still be there in the next millennium.

What is an AED?
An AED is a small portable device that delivers a shock to the heart of someone suffering from cardiac arrest -- a condition in which the heart stops beating.  These lifesaving devices prompt the rescuer verbally and visually along, step-by-step, and will tell the rescuer exactly when to deliver a shock if necessary.

How does an AED Work?
An AED is easy to operate.  It uses voice prompts to instruct the rescuer. Once the machine is turned on, the rescuer will be prompted to apply two electrodes provided with the AED to the victim's chest.  Once applied, the AED will begin to monitor the victim's heart rhythm.  If a "shockable" rhythm is detected, the machine will charge itself and instruct the rescuer to stand clear of the victim and to press the shock button.

If an AED is so easy to use, why do I need training?
Training is necessary in order to understand the role of defibrillation in the broader context of the cardiac chain of survival.  Training in CPR and AED skills will enable the rescuer to use all the steps in the cardiac chain of survival, thereby significantly increasing the victim's chance of survival.  All 50 states now have AED Good Samaritan provisions that help protect laypersons.

What is the Cardiac Chain of Survival?
The cardiac chain of survival is a series of four critical steps.  All four steps of the chain must be present to help ensure survival from sudden cardiac arrest.  The four steps are:

  • Step one: Early access to care (calling 911 or another emergency number)
  • Step two: Early cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)
  • Step three: Early defibrillation
  • Step four: Early advanced cardiac life support as needed

The third step, delivering an electrical shock to the heart, which is known as defibrillation, is recognized as the most critical step in restoring cardiac rhythm and resuscitating a victim of SCA.

Who do I contact for more information?
Help can't wait, and shouldn't.  For information about purchasing your defibrillators or scheduling a training program at your facility, please call Kathy Schroeder at (609) 951-2133 or email me at

The American Red Cross has a vision of all Americans being within 4 minutes of an AED and someone trained to use it in the event of sudden cardiac arrest.

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