How to Save a Life: Using a Defibrillator

This morning on "Good Morning America," ABC News' senior health and medical editor Dr. Richard Besser demonstrated the proper way to use an automatic external defibrillator (AED). AEDs are used to normalize a person's heart rhythm if they experience sudden cardiac arrest. According to Besser, 50,000 lives can be saved each year if an AED is used properly. Here are the basic steps:

Call out to the person to find out if he or she is responsive. If he or she is unresponsive, check to see if the person is breathing and has a pulse. If the unresponsive person is not breathing, then begin CPR.

VIDEO: Dr. Richard Besser explains sudden cardiac arrest and how to respond to it.
Cardiac Arrest: How to Save a Life By Using a Defibrillator

If the person does not have a pulse, it could mean that his or her heart is not beating. Power on the AED and follow the audio commands.

Open the victim's shirt and wipe his or her chest dry of any sweat or water.

Attach one pad to the victim's upper right chest and one to the lower left side. The pads are labeled with a picture to show you where they go.

Plug the wire from the pads into the AED machine if they are not already attached.

Make sure no one is touching the victim so the AED can analyze correctly. Push the "Analyze" button and wait for the analysis to complete.

If the AED determines a shock is required, tell everyone to move away from the victim. Then, press the "Shock" button on the AED to deliver the shock. Let the AED reanalyze the victim and continue to follow the audio directions.

If the AED determines that no shock is needed, then check for a pulse. If you still cannot find a pulse and the victim is not breathing, perform CPR until the AED reanalyzes or help arrives.

For more detailed information on the proper way to use an AED, visit the American Red Cross' website.

CLICK HERE to locate a CPR class near you.

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