Automated External Defibrillator

Sudden cardiac arrest facts:

  • The most frequent initial rhythm in adult sudden cardiac arrest is "ventricular fibrillation"
  • The only effective treatment for ventricular fibrillation is electrical defibrillation.
  • The probability of successful defibrillation diminishes rapidly over time.

The ultimate goal in treating sudden cardiac arrest is toresuscitate the patient to the pre-arrest level of neurological functioning. The firststep towards this goal is restarting the heart. In many instances the only way to do thisis deliver an electrical shock or a "defibrillation" to the heart.Defibrillation was once a skill reserved for emergency care providers trained in allaspects of advanced cardiac care. Today, thanks to the automated external defibrillator(AED), shocks can be delivered by people with less training. The term automated externaldefibrillators refers to external defibrillators that incorporate a rhythm analysissystem. AEDs eliminate the need for training in rhythm recognition and make earlydefibrillation by minimally trained personnel practical and achievable.

To help facilitate this goal of early defibrillation, in late May of1997 Tampa Fire Rescue placed automated external defibrillators on 20 engines, 4 aerialapparatus, 4 Chief cars, 1 Hazmat unit, 1 ventilation truck, 2 airport crash trucks, and 8inspector cars. The Fire Chief also carries an AED now.

On May 31,1997, the second day the AED's were put into service,Tampa Fire Rescue's crew on Engine 8 "C" shift got TFR's first AED save. Engine8 "C" had a 5-minute response time to a 64-year-old female they found incardiac/respiratory arrest. They attached the AED, it advised to shock. After deliveringone shock, the patient's heart began beating and generating a good pulse. They thenassisted her breathing until the Rescue unit arrived six minutes after their arrival. OnJune 12,1997 this survivor was discharged from the hospital with little or no neurologicaldeficit. Since this time, Tampa Fire Rescue has had 6 more AED saves, which includes twomore saves by the crew of Engine 8 "C."

If you would like any further information about AED use by TampaFire Rescue, please call Captain Kenny Licata, Quality Assurance Officer, at (813) 274-7007.