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A group of basketball players begins practice like any normal day. Suddenly, in the middle of a drill, one of the star players collapses in the middle of the court. The player is not breathing, and the athletic trainer cannot find a pulse. Immediately, the trainer accesses an AED and shocks the player's heart, returning it to a normal heartbeat.

Sudden cardiac arrest can happen to anyone - old, young, athlete, or otherwise. The heart can malfunction at any time and unexpectedly stop beating altogether. If not treated immediately, the person can experience permanent heart damage or even death. In fact, according to the American Heart Association, a victim's chance of survival drops by as much as 10 percent for every minute they remain in cardiac arrest. An Automated External Defibrillator (AED) is a lightweight device that delivers an electrical shock to the heart, through the chest. This electrical shock temporarily stops an irregular heartbeat and allows a normal rhythm to resume during or after a sudden heart attack.

User-friendly instructions help anyone to use an AED to restore normal heart rhythm. Brands such as Physio-Control, Heartsine, Zoll, Philips, Cardiac Science, Defibtech have highly accurate onboard computers that detect when the user should and should not administer a shock. When used in combination with rapid 9-1-1 response, and CPR, AEDs have been shown to save lives when placed in settings where large numbers of people gather or where the risk for sudden cardiac arrest is high. From sporting arenas, malls and airports to schools, hotels, doctors' offices, and businesses, AEDs ensure the safety of students, teachers, workers, and the general public. While training on the use of an AED is helpful, any lay person who can read and follow instructions is capable of using the device with a high degree of success.

For more information, read these helpful articles:

Defibrillator FAQs: A Comprehensive Guide

Can an AED be Used on an Infant?

What is the Difference Between an AED and a Defibrillator?

When Should an AED be Used & When Not to Use an AED?