How to Use an AED on an Infant?

December 5, 2022

Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) are a life-saver, enabling victims of sudden cardiac arrest to avoid certain death. Some people may feel uncomfortable using these devices on infants, fearing that the electric shock delivered may do more harm than good. However, this is not the case. They can be calibrated for infants. For example, one of AED Advantage Sales Ltd services includes providing reliable AEDs to customers, both for adult and infant use.

Sudden Cardiac Arrest: A Medical Emergency

The heart sustains life by beating every minute of every day to channel blood to all body tissues. It has an electrical system that enables its muscles to contract to perform its functions. Sudden cardiac arrest is when the heart’s electrical system malfunctions. This quickly leads to other problems like difficult (or absent) breathing, stoppage of blood flow to organs, and loss of consciousness. This is what constitutes a sudden cardiac arrest. Usually, an underlying heart problem causes this.

While the onset of a sudden cardiac arrest can have warning signs like a fast-beating heart and significant chest discomfort, it usually comes without warning.

Fibrillations occur when the upper and lower set of the heart’s chambers beat out of sync. This is due to rapid, uncoordinated electrical signals from the heart’s natural pacemaker, the sino-atrial node (SAN). This is a key feature of sudden cardiac arrest.

 An AED attempts to “defibrillate” the heart and restore a normal rhythm.

What Happens When an Infant Goes into Sudden Cardiac Arrest?

Knowing that an infant has gone into sudden cardiac arrest can be difficult. As in adults, the infant can collapse suddenly. While rare, an infant’s heart can also experience fibrillations. Deciding whether or not the situation is a sudden cardiac arrest is critical to taking the right measures immediately.

Performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) immediately after identifying a case of sudden cardiac arrest could save the infant’s life. An AED is an important part of such resuscitation efforts.

Applying CPR and AED

Performing CPR on an infant is very similar to doing it on an adult. However, a little caution is necessary. CPR involves repeated compressions of the chest cavity, employing a certain amount of physical pressure. Infants have more fragile bones and tissues in their chest walls. That’s why care should be taken when administering CPR to them.

An AED helps the CPR process if breathing and consciousness are not achieved promptly.

Using an AED

Many victims of sudden cardiac arrest usually find themselves in public places. As such, most first aid efforts, including utilizing AEDs to stabilize their heart rhythm, will likely be performed by strangers. Most such strangers will not have had first aid training, much less familiarity with using an AED. However, this is not an issue.

AEDs are programmed to give simple instructions every step of the way, making it easier for any first-timer to follow them with ease. 

AEDs come with pads that are placed on the victim to act as contact points with the skin for shock delivery. For infants, one pad is placed on the back while the other is on the front of the chest wall. The AED will vocalize this instruction clearly. 

It will then instruct you to keep your hands off the infant once you’ve attached the pads and their cable to the AED.

The AED will then analyze the infant’s heart rhythm to determine if an electric shock is necessary. Keeping your hands off the infant during this process ensures that your pulse (through your hands) is not part of the AED’s rhythm analysis of the infant’s heart which could give an inaccurate assessment.

Once the AED determines the need for an electric shock delivery, it will flash a warning sign on the “shock” button. You will press this button to enable it to deliver the electric shock. Usually, CPR would have been going on before hooking up the AED for shock delivery.

Amazing Features of AEDs

The latest models of AEDs are so sophisticated that the person operating them can give excellent first aid services, something previously only doctors in a hospital could do.

In addition to delivering the necessary electric shocks that stabilize a victim’s heart, AEDs also:

  • Have a self-diagnostic system to ensure that crucial components like the batteries and electrodes are always functional.
  • calibrate the shock to be delivered accordingly. For infants, the pads are smaller. When the connector of such pads is attached to the AED, it automatically adjusts the shock.
  • Give voice commands in different languages when activated.
  • Provide crucial information for the rescuer. For instance, it can tell the rescuer if the compressions are effective or not through audio-visual feedback.

It is always advisable to check the crucial components like batteries and electrodes. This ensures that the AED is ready to use at a moment’s notice.

Using an AED on an infant is simple if you just follow the instructions.

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