Do Not Use an AED in Any of These Given Conditions

If someone experiences a sudden cardiac arrest (SCA), they may require the use of a defibrillator. The Automated External Defibrillator (AED) is a device that delivers electric pulses to a person’s heart to revive them from the SCA. However, working with an AED requires great knowledge and responsibility.

If you have been trained to use an AED, you must remember that there are times when you should not be using them. This article will discuss when you should NOT be using an AED.

Conscious and Breathing

Some heart attacks may not knock a person unconscious. So if you see the person wide awake and breathing normally, do not use an AED. By using an AED on someone conscious, you may end up harming them more instead.

However, someone may be agonally breathing. Agonal breathing is not normal and will need you to use an AED. You can tell if someone is breathing agonally because they are not responsive, and it sounds like they may be hyperventilating or gasping for air.

They Have a DNR

Before doctors do AED, many of them may check for a DNR bracelet, necklace or tattoo on the patient. DNR stands for “Do Not Resuscitate”, which means that they have made a personal choice of not being resuscitated in the event of an emergency.

Regardless of your own beliefs or feelings about it, you must respect the patient's wishes. Regardless of what their family members, friends, or other people say, do not use an AED. Their personal belief is to be fulfilled, even if it is not something you would personally agree with.

Faulty AED Parts

If it seems like something is loose or not sticking the way it should be, do not use the AED. Try to search for one nearby or do not use anything at all. Using a faulty AED is much more dangerous than doing nothing. It may explode, burn, or have other adverse effects that could harm you or the patient more.

Wet Person or Surface

Water conducts electricity, which means that electric waves and shocks can easily flow. If you use an AED on a wet person, they and you can end up being electrocuted. The same goes if you use a wet surface.

If someone is wet or on a wet surface, move them, take off their wet pieces of clothing and make sure they are entirely dry. Only then will you use an AED if there is no trace of water on them.

There Is a Flammable Substance

If you are near alcohol or gasoline or any other flammable substance, do not use an AED. Flammable substances can catch fire around electricity, and although it is a rare case scenario, you cannot take the risk.

Like with water, just bring the patient away from the flammable substance. Remove anything soaked in the substance, and ensure that the patient is clear of this substance before using your AED.


The use of an AED needs someone to be trained and prepared. There may be cases when using an AED could bring more harm to the patient and even you, that it would be better off not to touch the patient until professional help arrives. Make sure you know when you cannot use an AED and remember it in case the time comes that you have to operate one.

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