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World Journal of Emergency Medicine ›› 2020, Vol. 11 ›› Issue (4): 238-245.doi: 10.5847/wjem.j.1920-8642.2020.04.006

Special Issue: Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation

• Original Article • Previous Articles     Next Articles

The general public’s ability to operate automated external defibrillator: A controlled simulation study

Xue-jie Dong1, Lin Zhang1(), Yue-lin Yu1, Shu-xiao Shi1, Xiao-chen Yang1, Xiao-qian Zhang2, Shuang Tian2, Helge Myklebust3, Guo-hong Li1, Zhi-jie Zheng4   

  1. 1 School of Public Health, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Shanghai, China
    2 School of Medicine, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Shanghai, China
    3 Laerdal Medical, Stavanger, Norway
    4 School of Public Health, Peking University, Beijing, China
  • Received:2020-01-12 Accepted:2020-06-01 Online:2020-10-01 Published:2020-10-01
  • Contact: Lin Zhang


BACKGROUND: Automated external defibrillators (AEDs) enable laypeople to provide early defibrillations to patients undergoing cardiac arrest, but scant information is available on the general public’s ability to use AEDs. This study assessed the ability of laypeople to operate AEDs, the effect of a 15-minute training, and whether skills differed by age.

METHODS: From May 1 to December 31, 2018, a prospective simulation study was conducted with 94 laypeople aged 18-65 years (32 aged 18-24 years, 34 aged 25-54 years, and 28 aged 55-65 years) with no prior AED training. The participants’ AED skills were assessed individually pre-training, post-training, and at a three-month follow-up using a simulated cardiac arrest scenario. The critical actions and time intervals were evaluated during the AED operating process.

RESULTS: Only 14 (14.9%) participants (eight aged 18-24 years, four aged 25-54 years, and two aged 55-65 years) successfully delivered defibrillations before training. AED operation errors were more likely to occur among the participants aged 55-65 years than among other age groups. After training, the proportion of successful defibrillations increased significantly (18-24 years old: 25.0% vs. 71.9%, P<0.01; 25-54 years old: 11.8% vs. 70.6%, P<0.01; 55-65 years old: 7.1% vs. 67.9%, P<0.01). After three months, 26.1% of the participants aged 55-65 years successfully delivered defibrillations, which was significantly lower than that of participants aged 18-24 years (54.8%) and 25-54 years (64.3%) (P=0.02). There were no differences in time measures among three age groups in each test.

CONCLUSIONS: The majority of untrained laypeople cannot effectively operate AEDs. More frequent training and refresher courses are crucial to improve AED skills.

Key words: Automated external defibrillator, Cardiac arrest, General public, Training, Simulation