Are you a CPR instructor, a safety manager/consultant, or have you just purchased an automated external defibrillator (AED) and want to learn how to use it? There are many options to choose from and, depending on your situation, one option may be better suited to your needs than another.
Responding to a rescue is not something you do every day. When called upon to use an AED, the situation is going to be stressful. Having a sense of familiarity with the equipment will alleviate some of the anxiety and can also streamline the process. Successfully treating cardiac arrest comes down to how quickly CPR is initiated and how quickly the AED is applied to the victim. Training is the obvious choice to get potential responders accustomed to the rescue process.
AED training is often combined with a CPR training class and is the best way to acquire the desired knowledge. CPR/AED training may even be a requirement for AED ownership in your state or locality. Even without a training class, there are alternatives you can use to acquaint yourself with your AED.
Some AEDs can be converted to trainers or placed into training mode, like the Philips Heartstart Onsite, FRx, and FR3, and the Defibtech Lifeline and Lifeline VIEW. This is a simple way to experience how your AED would operate in a real life rescue. Most AEDs in training mode will shorten the life of the main battery, which is usually a more expensive lithium battery. This method is best served for short training sessions with a small number of potential users.
Another option is a standalone training device. Most AED manufacturers have a training device which resembles their actual AED but does not deliver a live shock. These trainers usually run on household alkaline or rechargeable batteries and can be used as often as needed. There are also AED trainers available from brands which do not manufacture AEDs (like the Prestan AED Trainer); these trainers are usually less expensive and are excellent for demonstrating the operation of a typical AED.
AED training is a desirable adjunct to any AED program. Converting an existing AED into a trainer is acceptable for short demonstrations with a small number of users, but for larger and longer presentations a standalone trainer is definitely recommended.