There are many differences between an AED and a “standard” defibrillator such as the LIFEPAK 15. These are Advanced Life Support or “ALS” defibrillators, which are used by healthcare professionals in hospitals and ambulances. These devices allow professionals to monitor the patient rhythm and manually intervene if it is determined that a shock is required. In addition, most of these units offer an Advisory or AED function in which waveform analysis and shock recommendations are made based upon sophisticated algorithms contained within the device. ALS units can be used with either paddles or electrode pads. ALS defibrillators are meant for use by trained medical professionals only.
AEDs are considered a public access device designed to be used by anyone, whether they are trained or not. The device walks the user through the rescue until EMS arrives or the person is revived. It analyzes the heart rhythm every two minutes to determine if a shock is needed. It will not shock unless it detects a shockable rhythm, no matter how many times you press the shock button. It uses disposable adhesive electrode pads that deliver shocks at a set level of energy (measured in joules). Some AEDs use escalating energy (higher joules) for additional shocks on the same victim.