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What is AED Certification?

child using aed

If you saw someone suddenly collapse, would you know what to do? Even if you did know what to do, would you jump in and intervene if the situation called for it? 

Experiencing Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) outside the hospital affects over 350,000 Americans each year. And roughly 70-90% of those people won’t survive it. Responding early to SCA with CPR and an AED can help improve these statistics. 

Clearly, AED training is a more useful and prevalent skill than people may realize. Having CPR/AED certification can empower and prepare you to help respond in a time of crisis where seconds matter. Some states even require CPR/AED training in high school or for different types of employment.

What Are Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs)?

An Automated External Defibrillator, or AED, is a medical device that delivers a defibrillation shock to a person experiencing SCA in order to restore their heart to a normal rhythm.

These are the most important things you need to know about using an AED: 

  • AEDs will only deliver a defibrillation shock to people who need it. Once attached to someone’s chest, an AED will read the person’s heart rhythm, search for arrythmias, and determine if they need a defibrillation shock. 
  • Everyone should feel comfortable using an AED, including you! The AED will provide you with clear audio and visual instructions at every step of the way.
  • Defibrillation is the only way to restart the heart of someone in Sudden Cardiac Arrest.

The steps below will guide you through how to use an AED.

How to Use an AED Machine?

Steps to use an AED

What Does an AED Certification Mean?

AED certification is a document that signifies a person has been trained to use an AED to save a life. Although AEDs are made to be easy to use by lay people, the formal AED certification process will teach you:

  • The do’s and don’ts of using an AED to respond to a cardiac emergency, such as where to place the pads and where you should situate yourself when the AED delivers a shock in order to stay safe. 
  • The chain of survival, which helps clarify what steps to take and in what order, including when to deploy an AED. 
  • How to use an AED when someone else is helping you and how to use it when you are responding to SCA by yourself.

Most of the time, an AED certification coincides with CPR certification and will help show you how to use the two together. However, it is important to note that the use of an AED is not contingent on AED certification. AEDs are designed for anyone to use, even kids! 

Child using AED

AED and CPR/AED certification is available through online courses. Communities across the country offer local in-person classes to the public. The average cost for a CPR/AED certification is between $20-$35, and the document is typically valid for 2 years. 

The instructor of a CPR/AED course will take the students through the latest CPR and AED guidelines, which provider AED CPR notes, “have changed since the last time you have taken a class” — that is, if you’ve been certified before. The new approach stresses the importance of high quality chest compressions during CPR and the quick procurement of an AED for rapid defibrillation

The more the general public is made aware of SCA and the situations that call for CPR and AED use, the better our communities can save a life in the event of a cardiac emergency. Knowing how to perform CPR and use an AED helps to bridge the gap between when SCA occurs and when emergency services can arrive on the scene. Knowing when and how to use an AED could quite literally mean the difference between life and death, so everyone should know how to respond. 

AED certification card
Sample AED certification card

AED Certification FAQs 

Is AED certification the same as CPR certification? 

Unless specified as “CPR/AED Certification,” regular CPR training will not cover how to use an AED. If you’re going to get CPR certified, we recommend choosing a training session that covers both CPR and AED use since the two are so closely related. 

Learn more about CPR vs. AED Training: What’s the Difference?

What is the cost of AED certification? 

The cost for certification varies, but the most basic CPR/AED certification falls between $20-$35, with classes reaching as high as $130. Local nonprofit organizations periodically offer free CPR/AED training sessions, and although a training class would not provide the official certification card, they can be nice refreshers if available in your area. 

Do I need to be certified to use an AED? 

No. AEDs are designed for users with limited training and, as such, have audio and visual directions to walk someone through the process. AEDs are safe to use and will not provide a shock to anyone who is not in a fatal heart rhythm. 

How long does it take to get AED certified? 

Anywhere from 1-5 hours, depending on the course. 

How do I renew my CPR/AED certification?

To renew a CPR/AED certification, you will just need to take a renewal course. It is generally cheaper to get recertified than it is to get certified the first time. Renewal classes also take less time. 

Where can I get my CPR/AED certification? 

The American Red Cross has a helpful online tool to help locate CPR/AED courses near you. So does the American Heart Association. There are in-person, online, and blended learning options to accommodate your needs. 

Do I need to get CPR certified? 

Early CPR is a vital link in the chain of survival. Being trained in CPR provides the knowledge, confidence and skills to stay calm in a medical emergency and help a person in need. Individuals certified in CPR are prepared to make a difference in their community by being ready to jump into action anywhere a cardiac arrest happens.

Often people with the following jobs need to become CPR certified as a term of employment: Teachers, camp counselors, coaches, or anyone who works with youth, lifeguards, nursing assistants, construction workers, etc.

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