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AED Basics FAQ

AED People Frequently Asked Questions

Welcome to our Frequently Asked Questions Center!

Here you’ll find a list of questions that we’ve compiled from talking to people like you! Our goal is not just to regurgitate common statistics, but rather to interact with the AED community, find out what questions you have and answer them here. We know the industry well. In fact together our founders represent 25+ years of AED/EMS experience. If we don’t know the answer to your question…we’ll find it out, plain and simple. Don’t see the question here that you need answered? Live chat with one our AED experts or contact us!

An AED (automated external defibrillator) is a portable medical device used to treat someone who is suffering from Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA). The AED assesses the patient’s heart rhythm, determines whether a defibrillating shock is needed and then administers the shock. Start shopping for your AED now, or contact us if you have any questions.
Cardiovascular disease, including Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA), is the #1 killer in the United States today. An estimated 325,000 Americans die from SCA each year. Without immediate intervention, 95% of all SCA victims will die within minutes.

Someone who suffers sudden cardiac arrest (not breathing and no pulse) has only a 3-5% chance of survival when CPR and AEDs are not implemented quickly. The reason for this alarming statistic is largely due to one factor…TIME.

When someone’s heart stops beating, the most frequent, initial, electrical heart rhythm is called ventricular fibrillation. According to the American Heart Association, the chances of being converted back to a normal electrical heart rhythm decreases about 7-10% each minute.

While there is no official national standard yet to measure average EMS response times many areas average around 5-7 minutes. Unfortunately EMS response times don’t take into account how long it takes EMT’s to deliver the first shock once they’ve arrived on scene. Some cities have begun using a “call to shock” measurement that measures the time from the initial 911 call to the moment the first defibrillating shock is administered. This “call to shock” time can easily be in the 8-12 minute range by the time EMS reaches the victim, does an assessment, attaches their defibrillator, determines that the rhythm is shockable, charges the defibrillator and delivers the first shock.

When AED’s are implemented as part of a public access defibrillation (PAD) program, the chance for survival has been noted to be as high as 80-90% in places where the data has been compiled.

If you have any more questions about this, contact us! Or, start shopping for your AED now.

Yes. AEDs are FDA approved and are designed to be used by untrained lay rescuers. Simple voice prompts enable anyone to safely and effectively use an AED. AEDs are designed to analyze the victim’s heart rhythm, they will not shock unless necessary. You cannot accidentally shock someone.

Contact us if you have any additional quests. You can also start shopping for your AED now!
AEDs all operate by the same basic principles and with the same goal in mind: to save a Sudden Cardiac Arrest victim’s life. All AEDs manufactured today deliver the same biphasic waveform shock (which is the most important function of an AED) but, there are other differences that the consumer should take into consideration when purchasing an AED. Many of the differences are determined by the…

AED Type

There Are 3 Basic Types of AEDs That All Units Fall Into

1. Public Access AEDs / Price Range = $1,300 - $2,000

  • These AEDs are designed to be used by lay rescuers (people who aren’t professionally trained) and are designed to be used in public places such as: schools, universities, parks, office buildings, malls, churches, factories, etc.
  • These AEDs are built to withstand commercial use and generally are more rugged, better protected, more fully equipped and come with longer warranties (5 – 10 years) than “Home Use” AEDs.
  • Most consumers will fall into this category of AEDs.
  • Examples of this type of AED are the: LifePak CR Plus, Powerheart G3 Plus, Defibtech Lifeline, Heartsine Samaritan PAD.

2. EMS Ready AEDs / Price Range = $2,000 - $3,000

  • These AEDs are designed to be used by BOTH lay rescuers as well as trained responders. These units have a manual mode & ECG display that allows trained responders to override the default AED mode.
  • These units may be found in many of the same locations as “Public Access” AEDs, but generally due to cost & unnecessary features, are reserved for applications such as: hospitals, nursing homes, private ambulances, EMS providers, military use, police use and locations where ACLS responders may be nearby.
  • These AEDs are VERY rugged and are designed to operate in extreme conditions and withstand abuse.Examples of this type of ED are: LifePak 1000, Powerheart G3 Pro, Zoll AED Pro.

3. Home Use AEDs / Price Range = $1,100 - $1,500

  • These AEDs are similar to “Public Access” AEDs in feature and identical in function. In fact all of the “Public Access” AEDs could be considered “Home Use” but a couple of models have been labeled specifically for home use.
  • Home Use AEDs are designed first & foremost to be AFFORDABLE and therefore are not recommended for rugged use or commercial use. They usually do not come with protective cases, rescue kits, or backup electrodes (generally standard on “Public Access” AEDs). They also generally have shorter warranties (5 years) than “Public Access” AEDs.
  • Examples of this type of AED are: LifePak Express, Philips Onsite, Heartsine Samaritan PAD

Other Differences:

  • Battery life expectancy and cost.
  • Pad/Electrode/Patch life expectancy and cost.
  • ECG display: most AEDs today do not have an ECG display if it is intended for use by a lay rescuer. These displays can only be interpreted by trained professionals and may even be a distraction to the lay rescuer.
  • Voice prompts: all AEDs today have voice prompts to guide the rescuer through the operation of the AED. Some include visual prompts and some even include CPR coaching through voice and or visual prompts.
  • Escalating energy or not.
  • Warranty periods.
  • Fully automatic vs. Semi automatic i.e.: Semi automatic AEDs have a shock button that the rescuer must push when prompted by the AED to deliver the shock. Fully automatic AEDs do not have a shock button; the AED automatically delivers the shock after warning rescuers to stand clear and initiating a countdown.

Please see our AED Buying Guide for a complete listing of features compared by brand! If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact us.

SCA occurs when the heart unexpectedly and abruptly quits beating. This is usually caused by an abnormal heart rhythm called ventricular fibrillation (VF). An estimated 325,000 Americans die from SCA each year. Without immediate intervention, 95% of all SCA victims will die within minutes.

What are you waiting for? Start shopping for your AED today, or contact us!

No. A heart attack occurs when blood flow to part of the heart muscle is blocked, resulting in heart tissue death. Heart attack victims usually (but not always) experience chest pain and remain conscious. SCA victims will be unresponsive and not breathing. Many heart attacks will lead to SCA, but it can also occur independently and without warning signs.

If you have any further questions, feel free to contact us. Or, start shopping for your AED now!


SCA
is difficult to predict and many victims have no prior symptoms. Anyone who has suffered a heart attack, is aware of a heart arrhythmia or has a family history of heart disease may be at greater risk. The median age of SCA victims is 65, however approximately 10% of SCA events occur among people less than 40 years old. Contact AED People for more information about this topic. You can also start shopping for your AED right here!
Defibrillation, put simply, is a procedure that delivers an electric shock to the heart to try to restore its normal rhythm. It can be likened to re-booting a computer that isn’t operating correctly. It should be administered within 3-5 minutes after collapse for success. Chances of survival decrease about 10% per minute without defibrillation.

To truly understand defibrillation though, you first have to understand a little bit about the how your heart works and ventricular fibrillation...ready? Here we go!

Your heart is a muscle and like any other muscle in your body, when it receives a shock, it will contract. This is very basically how your heart works. Your heart creates an electrical current that shocks the heart in the proper place at the proper time which in turn causes it to contract/beat and pump blood throughout your body. This is considered normal electrical activity of the heart.

When a person experiences a Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) (many times following a heart attack) the normal electrical rhythm is disrupted and becomes very chaotic, causing the heart to cease normal pumping activity and to begin fibrillating. If you could see a picture of a heart in fibrillation it would not be beating normally, instead it would appear to be tremoring as the electrical activity is unorganized and is not shocking the heart effectively.

The most common underlying electrical arrhythmia associated with SCA is Ventricular Fibrillation. Ventricular fibrillation is almost always fatal without treatment, but is, at least for a short period of time (usually 10 minutes or less and ideally within 3-5 minutes), still a readily treatable rhythm through a process called defibrillation. Good CPR from a bystander will also help to increase the person’s chance of survival when used in conjunction with an AED, however, CPR in itself cannot treat Ventricular Fibrillation…it is a tool designed to buy time until an AED arrives.

Here is how defibrillation is achieved with an AED: Once the AED is turned on and the electrodes/patches are attached, the AED determines if a shock is needed or not. Note: The user CANNOT shock someone if they do not need it! If a shock is needed, the AED will charge up and prompt the user to deliver the shock (semi automatic models) or warn the rescuers to clear, and then deliver the shock (fully automatic models) which sends an electrical shock through the heart. This electrical shock process is called defibrillation.

Though this all might seem a little confusing or even overwhelming, what’s important to understand is that the shock (defibrillation) will stop all of the chaotic electrical activity that is happening in the heart during ventricular fibrillation. If this is done within the first few minutes of a sudden cardiac arrest the chances that the heart will go back to normal electrical activity resulting in a normal heart beat can be increased by up to 86%. Without defibrillation, the chances of someone surviving SCA decrease by 7-10% per minute and irreversible brain death begins to occur at 4-6 minutes. Start shopping for your AED today, or contact us for more information.


The term escalating energy refers to the second, third and subsequent shocks that an AED will deliver if needed. Escalating energy is undoubtedly the most controversial issue surrounding AEDs today. Each AED manufacturer has their own opinion on the subject.

Our goal at AEDpeople.com is to be an objective resource that you can rely on for unbiased, accurate information. Let’s face it, the last thing you need right now is someone pushing a brand specific agenda! We know that our customers prefer to be given factual information and allowed to make the decision that they are most comfortable with. In light of that, the most effective way to approach this issue is to provide you with information from an unbiased source, the American Heart Association. The American Heart Association sets the standards regarding AEDs in the U.S. and their findings are available below.


Fixed and Escalating Energy (American Heart Association):

  • Commercially available biphasic AEDs provide either fixed or escalating energy levels. Multiple prospective human clinical studies and retrospective studies have failed to identify an optimal biphasic energy level for first or subsequent shocks. Human studies have not demonstrated evidence of harm from any biphasic waveform defibrillation energy up to 360 J, with harm defined as elevated biomarker levels, ECG findings, and reduced ejection fraction. Conversely, several animal studies have shown the potential for myocardial damage with much higher energy shocks. Therefore, it is not possible to make a definitive recommendation for the selected energy for subsequent biphasic defibrillation attempts. However, based on available evidence, we recommend that second and subsequent energy levels should be at least equivalent and higher energy levels may be considered, if available (Class IIb, LOE B).


All of the AEDs manufactured today are of the biphasic waveform and statistically have the same percentage of conversion rate for ventricular fibrillation when defibrillation is performed within the 2-4 minute range.

Contact AED People if you have any additional questions – we love hearing from our customers!

CPR buys time until the heart is defibrillated, but is not a cure in itself. Defibrillation is the only known cure for SCA. It is recommended that you perform CPR until the AED arrives and then you should follow the AED voice prompts. The AED will tell you when to resume CPR. If you have any additional questions, please feel free to contact us – we would love to hear from you! Or, you can start shopping for your automated external defibrillator right now!

Yes. CPR will keep the main organs of the body oxygenated. Remember that every cell in your body needs oxygen to survive and when the heart stops, that process also stops. Performing CPR helps to keep the heart oxygenated which makes it more susceptible to defibrillation. CPR and the use of an AED are an integral part of any PAD (public access defibrillation) program and are required by legislation for trained users.

Start shopping for your AED now, or contact us if you have any questions.

Depending on your state and or local legislation AEDs can be used by most lay rescuers. Some states require all users to be trained while some states require training for expected users but still give immunity to untrained rescuers who are willing to retrieve an AED and use it. All AEDs are very user friendly and easy to use. Please see our section on state by state AED legislation to find out what your state requires.

If you have any more questions about this, contact us! Or, start shopping for your AED now.
All 50 United States have passed legislation to protect the owners and users of AEDs from incurring liability. Each state has certain criteria that must be met for this legislation to take effect. The national Cardiac Arrest Survival Act (CASA) also protects lay rescuers from lawsuits.

If you have any additional questions, please feel free to contact us – we’d love to hear from you! Or, you can start shopping for your automated external defibrillator right now!

Some AED manufacturers also make the heart monitor defibrillators that EMS professionals will use once they arrive. If the AED that you are using is made by the same manufacturer, the electrodes/patches will be compatible and can be plugged into their monitor/defibrillator without removing them from the victim.

Most AED manufacturers also make an adapter cable to accomplish this if you purchase a different brand than your local fire department. We highly recommend talking with your local fire/EMS facility on this issue as they are ultimately the ones who will decide how to handle the event once they have arrived.

If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact us.

If you are in this situation, you are very fortunate. However, if you've ever heard the saying "when seconds mean survival, help is only minutes away" it certainly applies to someone who is having a sudden cardiac arrest. Many government buildings are next door or are attached to the fire/EMS facility and yet still choose to place AEDs within the building...why is this?

Call volumes for fire departments today are at an all time high, this issue coupled with the fact that many communities are now sharing or combining EMS services means that your closest responder may be further away than you think. If your local EMS team is on a call when you need them, another EMS squad will be dispatched from the next closest department...which could increase response times significantly. We recommend the proactive approach of having an AED present even if EMS services are nearby.

Contact us if you have any additional quests. You can also start shopping for your AED now!

All AEDs today have pediatric capabilities and the AHA (American Heart Association) recommends the use of pediatric electrode pads or pediatric key (based on manufacturer) whenever they are available for children, who are 8 years old or younger, or 55lbs or less. However the AHA also recommends using adult electrodes or adult mode if pediatric electrodes or key are not available. We recommend that pediatric electrodes be available anywhere where children are routinely present or if your facility has a child with a congenital heart defect.

If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact us.

Anyone can buy an AED. The Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) rules require a physician's prescription (AEDs are manufactured and sold under guidelines approved by the Food and Drug Administration) for all but one model before the unit can be delivered.

If you would like more information about this, please contact us – we love hearing from our customers! Or, start shopping for your AED today!

The price of an AED varies by make and model. As of today, AEDs can be purchased for less than $1,200. We also carry AED package specials – we are committed to ensuring that our customers get the best value in today’s market! If you would like more information about the cost of AEDs, please feel free to contact us. You can also take the time to browse our extensive product selection by brand or industry and begin shopping today!