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Study finds less than 5 percent of the public feels comfortable using an AED

According to a new study, less than 5 percent of the public feels comfortable using an Automatic Electronic Defibrillator, or an AED, when someone has a heart attack.

According to a new study, less than 5 percent of the public feels comfortable using an Automatic Electronic Defibrillator, or an AED, when someone has a heart attack.

The study from Cardiovascular Business finds much of the public doesn't understand how the device works, and are afraid it could do more harm than good. But the truth isn't as shocking: Using an AED is safe, effective and one of the first medical procedures the public can use to save a life.

"You shouldn't be afraid to use one of these AEDs,” Chief Clark Crago of the TEMS Joint Ambulance District said. “They're located throughout communities in different locations like government buildings. All school systems in (Jefferson County) have them in place -- highway patrol cars. They're showing up like fire extinguishers."

But no one would think twice about pulling the pin on a fire extinguisher. The same can't be said of the public when it comes to heart attack victims and saving their lives with an AED,

"It won't misfire on someone (who) doesn't need that shock delivered to them," Crago said.

If a person's heart is completely stopped already, the AED detects that and won't fire. If a person has a normal and continuous heartbeat, it won't fire, either. Only two times will the AED work.

"It will allow the device to fire when the heart's gone in the excess of 200 beats per minute, or if the muscle of the heart is just sitting there quivering. Those are the only two rhythms that it will shock," Crago said.

So don't be afraid. Good Samaritan laws protect those who intervene anyway. Time is limited.

"Basically, you have 7 minutes, and within that timeframe you need to act," Crago said.

That's also doing CPR with or without the device. If you have the device, place the electric strips -- one on the front, one on the person's side or back -- to make the best contact. Whatever is available, don't hesitate.

"It's best to act,” Crago said. “You can't cause any further harm than what's already happened."

Jefferson County 911 Director Rob Herrington says the county is looking at activating AED locations on an app, like pulse point, or having them traceable with some sort of web technology later this winter.

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