Understanding the roles of first responders and AEDs is important. Several studies today, such as the one published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, show that AED can increase the chances in a cardiac arrest victim even before getting to the hospital. In these scenarios, bystanders and first responders play a key role.
An AED is a machine that gives a person experiencing cardiac arrest an electric shock known as defibrillation, which helps restore the heart’s regular rhythm. Naturally, knowing how this device works is important.
Unlike bystanders, first responders must know how to use an AED. Continue reading this article if you wish to understand the importance of first responders and AEDs in the revival of a person’s life.
Background: Understanding the Roles of First Responders and AEDs
Before getting into the key role a first responder plays, you need to discover what actually is a first responder. This term is coined by the US Homeland Security in the Homeland Security Presidential Directive (HSPD-8), where you can find the following definition:
“The term ‘first responder’ refers to those individuals who in the early stages of an incident are responsible for the protection and preservation of life, property, evidence, and the environment, including emergency response providers as defined in section 2 of the Homeland Security Act of 2002 as well as emergency management, public health, clinical care, public works, and other skilled support personnel (such as equipment operators) that provide immediate support services during prevention, response, and recovery operations.”
To put it in simpler words, first responders are people who can immediately respond to an emergency situation. These are trained individuals such as firefighters, police officers, paramedics, EMTs, or other specialty positions that specifically entail life-saving as part of their job. Although they perform different tasks, all of their work is directed toward the revival of a person’s life.
Community First Responders
In addition, healthcare systems have begun to deploy so-called community first responders to perform CPR and defibrillation in order to increase the chances of survival of the victim. Community first responders are members of the community who have obtained at least basic training in CPR/ AED use. They can also be referred to as emergency medical responders. These types of rescuers include law enforcers, firefighters, or emergency medical technicians (EMTs).
What Does A First Responder Do?
Depending on which of the groups the first responder belongs to, his duties and responsibilities require various tasks. But in general, there are two main goals of a first responder that all groups have in common:
- The first one is to stop the progression of the emergency situation. In specific cases like cardiac arrest or heart attack in a public place, first responders should do everything possible to keep the victim’s health from deteriorating.
- The second is to give emergency medical care to a person in need. Even a police officer is able to give CPR or first aid to an injured individual if he finds himself in the middle of an emergency.
This responsibility and taking action on the spot is part of the “protection and preservation of life” from the US Homeland’s definition of a first responder. As it can be deduced, their main priority is the safety of the people in danger by giving help in an emergency situation, regardless of whether they are firefighters or police officers.
EMTs, Firefighters & Police Officers as First Responders
EMTs are more trained to perform life-saving procedures than firefighters or police officers. But even these two sub-groups are CPR classes and use AED in order to keep a person alive until emergency medical personnel can assist.
First responders are crucial for the revival of a person’s life because, as the name suggests, they are the first ones on the spot and give their help. They are also the primary means of communication between what is going on at the scene and medical institutions. Hospitals would be unable to acknowledge nor prepare for incoming patients if these responders were not present.
What Is Crucial For a First Responder?
Understanding the roles of first responders and AEDs comes with understanding what to do first. The first thing that every first responder must have is the skill to work under pressure. First responders must remain calm throughout the whole event. Maintaining cool allows them to perform their job with precision and care, and it also guarantees that they stay rational in a potentially dangerous scenario.
Of course, first responders must also have a set of problem-solving skills. Most emergencies are not clean-cut situations, where they can easily administer light CPR and revive the victim. These skills can help a first responder make quick decisions.
Teamwork and communication skills are also important for this job. First responders need to know how to communicate with the victim, which in most cases is a layman, and report the problem to the hospital. Some situations will also require physical strength, like moving the body to a safer position or out of a dangerous surrounding.
Types of AED a First Responder Can Use
Understanding the roles of first responders and AEDs involves knowing about the two t ypes they use. There are two types of automatic external defibrillators a first responder can use: semi-automated and completely automated.
A semi-automated external defibrillator contains a shock button that you must press to administer the shock when instructed, while the completely automated model delivers the shock automatically. In the medical world, the first type usually weighs a higher feeling of responsibility which is why it is more often used by professionals such as EMSs.
Another main differentiation between the AED types is the location and training required to use each type of AED. Public spaces, including airports, community centers, governmental structures, hospitals, and schools, all include AEDs with public access. While it is strongly advised that you get AED training before operating a public access AED, these types of AEDs are designed for anyone to use.
However, first responders mostly have access to professional AEDs, not suitable for an average layperson. These machines require developed life-saving skills and are often operated by professionals with more in-depth AED training, such as emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and paramedics.
Why Having An AED Nearby Is Important for a First Responder?
According to the American Heart Association, around 350,000 Americans die each year from sudden cardiac arrest outside of hospitals. When a person is experiencing cardiac arrest, the first thing anyone needs to do is call 911.
But the problem that arises is that, usually, the emergency services would take around 7 to 10 minutes to arrive at the scene after placing the call. This, combined with the low chances of surviving a cardiac arrest, equals a very low likelihood of restoring the heart rhythm in the absence of CPR and AED.
When a person suffers a cardiac arrest, the electrical impulses that cause muscle contractions that stimulate the heart to pump blood are disturbed, rendering regular blood circulation inoperable. The abnormal heart rhythm is halted, so a defibrillation shock is needed to reset it.
Because a sudden cardiac arrest can occur at any time, AEDs placed in densely populated public areas such as shopping malls, airports, and sports stadiums are critical for giving early resuscitation. This device, coupled with effective CPR, can successfully stabilize a person until medical help arrives.
As we mentioned above, this is where the role of the first responder is played out by doing their best to save the person’s life. That is why a crucial aspect of their training includes learning how to use an automated external defibrillator (AEDs) and Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) in order to apply these life-saving techniques to increase the chances of survival from a cardiac arrest.
Conclusion: Understanding the Roles of First Responders and AEDs
An OHCA cardiac arrest is a serious health condition, out of which the most common outcome is death. Hence, increasing the survival rate after OHCA is a top aim for healthcare providers. A crucial role in the revival of the victim’s life is the intervention of first responders as medically trained individuals who use life-saving techniques.
One of these methods is the use of AEDs. Even AHA states that AEDs increase the likelihood of survival by 66.5%. According to AHA, around 57.1% of cardiac arrest victims have a normal working heart after a timely admission of shocks done by a bystander. Plus, the research shows that every year, public AEDs used by bystanders save the lives of 1,700 patients.
Having this in mind, it is easy to conclude that all chances of survival can drastically improve if CPR is given and AEDs are used by first responders. This blog should have provided you with enough information for understanding the Roles of First Responders and AEDs.