Automated external defibrillators (AEDs) are electronic devices used to restart a person's heart if it has stopped beating. AEDs can help save lives.

Cardiac arrest is when the heart stops beating properly. When this happens, the heart needs to be shocked into beating properly again. This procedure is called defibrillation. According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, as many as 45,000 Canadians experience a sudden cardiac arrest each year. Early access to cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and defibrillation (1 to 3 minutes after cardiac arrest) is vital. These actions may increase the chance of survival by 75% or more.

AEDs are small portable machines that can:
  • analyze the person's heart rhythm
  • determine whether a shock is needed
  • have semi-automatic or automatic features to deliver the shock
  • provide 'coaching' to guide users on giving effective CPR breathing and compressions
  • use voice or screen prompts to guide the rescuer through the process
Anyone can safely use an AED without training, provided that the user can read the AED's text and follow its voice-prompt instructions. The AED assesses the heart of a person in cardiac arrest for a shockable rhythm. If such a rhythm is detected the AED requests the rescuer to push a button to deliver a shock to a victim’s heart. If no shockable rhythm is detected, no shock will be requested nor can a shock be given.

AEDs are being installed across the country in public locations including recreational facilities, places of worship, shopping malls, airports and schools.

An AED should be installed in a location that facilitates easy, rapid public access. It must be clearly visible, located in a common area and easily accessible to members of the public without assistance from staff at the facility. The AED should be stored in a case that protects it from environmental damage. Some cases are equipped with alarms to help prevent tampering and ensure the AED is only used in an emergency.

AEDs should be inspected monthly in accordance with the manufacturer’s guidelines, and should include:
  • verifying the AED status
  • checking the pad and accessories
  • checking the batteries
  • cleaning
Address service issues that arise from voice or visual prompts or a self-test. Contact the manufacturer when it warns you that servicing is needed. Always have at least one spare battery available. Check the manual for how often you need to change batteries. This also applies to rechargeable batteries as they can lose their energy, even when not in use.
Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs)