As soon as a victim is encountered and it is determined that they are unresponsive, three things need to happen:

  • Someone calls 000  if a phone is available
  • Someone retrieves the AED if one is available
  • Someone checks for breathing and circulation and begins CPR if needed
  • That works fine if you have at least 3 people on the scene.
  • If there are only 2 people, one calls 000 and gets the AED while the second begins CPR.
  • If you are all alone, you should do them all in the order listed even if it means leaving the victim – call 000, get the AED, and then check for breathing.

If the victim is not breathing, follow these steps to perform CPR with an AED:

  • Position the victim on his back.
  • Tilt head back and lift chin. Check for breathing for no more than 10 seconds.
  • If the victim is not breathing, give 2 rescue breaths.
  • Check for signs of circulation. If there is no circulation, then the heart is not pumping.
  • Turn on the AED and follow audio commands.
  • Open the victim’s shirt and wipe his chest dry of sweat or water.
  • Attach one pad to the victim’s upper right chest and one to the lower left side. The pads will be labelled with a picture of where they go.
  • Plug the wire from the pads into the AED if they are not already attached.
  • Make sure no one is touching the victim so the AED can analyze correctly.
  • Push the ‘Analyze’ button or let the AED automatically begin its analysis. Just wait for the analysis to complete.

If the AED determines a shock is required:

  • Keep everyone clear of the victim.
  • Press the ‘shock’ button.
  • Let the AED reanalyze.

If the AED determines no shock is needed:

  • Check for a pulse.
  • If you can not find a pulse and the victim is not breathing, perform CPR until the AED reanalyzes.
  • If there is a pulse but no breathing, then perform rescue breathing and make sure the breaths raise the chest.
  • If there is a pulse and breathing, place the victim in a recover position and monitor them.

Once you have attached the AED to a victim, do not remove it. It will continue to analyze and if the victim lapses again, the AED will recommend a shock if needed. When Emergency Medical Services personnel are on the scene, they can remove it.


Can I hurt someone by using an AED on them? No, the AED automatically analyzes and determines if a shock is required. If you have determined to use an AED, then the person is essentially dead already anyway. You should participate in some AED training before using an AED.

Can I get sued for using an AED? Yes, you can get sued for any reason. Chances of you losing a suit because you used CPR and an AED attempting to revive someone are very close to zero. Finding ‘Good Samaritans’ at fault is very rare.