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Getting it Right: AED Pad Placement Dos and Don’ts

An AED is a medical device used for a patient suffering from cardiac arrest and delivers an electric shock in an emergency. A cardiac arrest occurs when the heart stops beating, and blood stops flowing in the patient’s body. 

The AED pad creates a pathway through the heart muscles, allowing the device to deliver the electric shock to the patient’s heart and bring it back into action. The correct placement of the AED pad is essential for ensuring that it works properly and prevents the patient from undue harm. 

The correct AED pad placement varies in adults and children. There are some exceptional considerations where the general rules are not applied. Training for AED pad placement is optional because it has been designed for laymen without medical training. Many organizations and educational institutions have installed the AED  in foreign countries. 

Before understanding the dos and don’ts of AED pad placement, you must have knowledge of correct AED pad placements in adults, children, infants, and pregnant women. Otherwise, you may face issues that may give you a poor outcome. 

We will discuss all the topics in this article to increase your information on the correct placement of AED pads.

AED pad placement on Adults 

Cardiac arrest issues are primarily recognized in aged adults. The AED pad comes equipped as a default device for adults. It comes with audio prompts and visual diagrams; you can place the pad on the adult patients using these two. 

Generally, in adults, one AED pad should be placed on the upper side of the patient’s chest, and another on the lower side, i.e., the rib cage of the patient’s chest. This process is the same for every adult, whether male or female. 

AED pad placement on children

According to the American Heart Association (AHA) recommendation, children below the age of 8 or under 25 kg in weight must be provided with pediatric AED pads if possible. If you are unaware of the child’s age or weight, please check quickly as soon as possible and do not leave them unattended because it may harm them. 

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The techniques for applying AED pads in children and infants are different. Use only one hand to place the pad according to the child’s size. The placement of the pad for a child is the same as anterior-posterior. 

One pad should be placed in the center of the front of the chest, and another should be placed in the center of the child’s upper back. Whether it’s a child or an infant, remember to set the AED pad ⅓ of the depth of the child’s chest and watch the chest rise to allow the heart to fill with blood. 

AED pad placement in infants

Use pediatric AED pads for infants under 12 months because they will be fixed on their chest better. If you have adult AED pads, use them in emergencies despite doing nothing. Ensure the pads are not touching.

For infants, the pad placement process is the same as anterior-posterior. One pad should be placed in the center of the front of the chest, and another should be placed in the center of the child’s upper back. 

Cardiac arrest likely occurs in under-age infants because of the blockage in their lungs or airway instead of a problem in their heart. You will have to ensure that the infant isn’t choking. Once you confirm the choking emergency, place the AED pad according to the instruction. 

AED pad placement on pregnant women

If someone is pregnant and you already know about cardiac arrest issues, you should have an AED pad because it is essential for you according to your condition. It may be the best chance of survival for the expectant mother and the fetus. 

Placing the AED pad on pregnant women is similar to adults. One AED pad should be placed on the upper side of the woman’s chest, and another AED pad should be placed on the lower side of her rib cage. 

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While calling for emergency help, you must remember to mention her state or pregnancy condition, whether the pregnancy condition is in the initial or advanced stage. Even though the pregnancy is in an advanced stage and the mother dies still, they can save the baby through the C-section process. 

Special consideration

There are three special considerations for AED pad users where the general rules are not applied and require special care while using the AED pad. We will be discussing those three special considerations below. So, stay tuned.

Sweaty patients

As you know, a wet body and an electrical device are not suitable for each other; it can harm the patient. If the patient is wet due to their sweating, put them first on the dry surface, take off their wet clothes and dry their chest before placing the AED pad on the patient’s chest. 

Hairy chest

If the patient’s chest is hairy, clean the hairs before placing the electrode pad if possible because the pads will not stick properly to the body and might have difficulties analyzing the rhythm of the patient’s heart. As an outcome, the pads may deliver inappropriately timed shock. 

Always have a disposable razor in your first aid kit. If it is unavailable during an emergency and the device prompts you with check pads, push down the pads hard to increase the conductivity and remove your hands as soon as it instructs you to “stand clear.” 

Medicated patch

Putting the AED pads on a medicated patch is not a good idea because it can cause burns over the patch due to shock. It’s better to remove the medicated patch before applying the pads and quickly wipe the area with alcohol or towelette. While doing so, wear medicated gloves on your hands. 

Dos and Dont’s for AED pad placement

After having brief knowledge of the placement of AED pads, the dos and dont’s are essential to remember. So, here in this section, we will be discussing them.

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Dos

  • Remove the jewelry like nipple piercing and necklaces.
  • Remove any kind of stickers or artificial tattoos.
  • Remove the clothing from the chest area 

Dont’s

  • Do not use AED when the patient is wet or sweaty.
  • Do not let anybody come closer to the patient while the pads deliver a shock.
  • Do not use AED in an explosive environment because there is always a risk of a spark.

Conclusion

We have briefly discussed the importance of proper pad placement and dos and dont’s while using the AED pads to increase the chance of the patient’s survival during an emergency. Special considerations should be kept in mind while using the AED pads. 

Remember not to panic during an emergency and call for medical help immediately. 

This article will help you with the correct AED pad placement when attending to an emergency patient.

Author

  • Dr. Bradley Lynch

    Dr. Bradley Lynch is a board-certified sports medicine physician with a Bachelor's degree in Biology from the University of Michigan and a medical degree from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). He completed his residency training in Family Medicine at the University of California, San Diego and a fellowship in Sports Medicine at the Kerlan-Jobe Orthopedic Clinic. With over 10 years of experience in the medical field, Dr. Lynch is an expert in sports injuries, musculoskeletal ultrasound, and overall health and wellness. As an author at FitGAG, he shares his knowledge and expertise on a variety of topics, including sports injury prevention, musculoskeletal ultrasound techniques, and overall health and wellness tips. Dr. Lynch believes that a holistic approach to health and wellness is essential for optimal performance and well-being, and he strives to inspire his readers to prioritize movement, proper nutrition, and self-care. Through his articles, Dr. Lynch aims to empower his readers to achieve their fitness goals, overcome injuries, and enhance their overall quality of life.

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