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Automated External Defibrillator: Public Access to Defibrillation

Updated: May 19

Did you know: 9 out of 10 cardiac arrest victims who receive a shock from an AED in the first minute will survive.

Over 70% of cardiac arrests occur in homes and public places, and many are witnessed by a family member, co-worker or friend. The survival rate of cardiac arrest outside a hospital is very low.

However, performing CPR and using an AED before Emergency Medical Services arrive can increase the chance of survival by up to 75%!

Additionally, every minute that passes without the use of an AED and high-quality CPR, survival rates DROP by up to 10% - This means that waiting for the ambulance to arrive is not an option. It is our responsibility to our loved ones to train in the skills of CPR and the use of an AED.

The Alberta Public Access to Defibrillation (PAD) Program promotes increased survival from sudden cardiac arrest by encouraging communities and supporting the public to:

  • Make Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) available in publicly accessible areas

  • Register AEDs with the free AHS database

  • Share AED locations with 9-1-1 Emergency Medical Services Dispatch

  • Take Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) training

  • Use an AED at a medical emergency

This map outlines public access locations for REGISTERED AEDs in Alberta. The list however is not inclusive of all AED locations in the area.


More than 40, 000 deaths occur in Canada each year as a result of Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA), but the chance of survival increases when cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and AED are used before Emergency Medical Services (EMS) arrives. Public education and placing AEDs where groups of people gather can help ensure these life-saving measures are used.

Ensure public safety by having an automated external defibrillator (AED) easily accessible for bystander use.  With the proper equipment and training, anyone can contribute to saving a life. AEDs can provide CPR guidance, acting as a personal coach to efficiently lead you through a cardiac emergency with a straightforward, step-by-step approach. Smart sensors evaluate and administer appropriate therapy automatically, tailored to each individual. Let us help instill the confidence to respond promptly and decisively during cardiac arrest by empowering you to take action and potentially save a life.

What is an AED?

An Automated External Defibrillator (AED) consist of adhesive pads that when applied to a patient's chest, can monitor heart rhythms. AEDs can tell if the heart has stopped beating effectively. If required, the machine can then advise delivery an electric shock to the heart. This electric current travels through the hearts pacemakers and has the power to reset the heart rhythm so that it begins beating effectively and thus provided blood to vital organs. FACT SHEET



- An AED will only shock if it detects a “shockable” cardiac rhythm, this means that if it detects a normal rhythm or no rhythm at all is will NOT shock.

- If AED says “Shock Not Advised” continue with CPR until unless patient is breathing.

- Child/Infant pads are placed on the chest and back of the patient. It is very important that the pads are not touching.

- You CAN use an AED on a pregnant patient.

- You CAN use an AED on an infants and children.

- An AED will analyze the patients heart rhythm every 2 minutes. Do not touch the patient while the heart rhythm is being analyzed.

- Once Pads are applied DO NOT remove them even if patient regains consciousness. You may need to re-use them if patient goes into cardiac arrest again.


- DO NOT place AED Pads over any medication patches (nitroglycerin, nicotine, etc). Remove all medication patches prior to applying pads.

- AED’s can detect is the adhesive pad is not sticking and will instruct you to re-apply pads.

- AED’s are safe to use on individuals laying on snow, or ice.

- Remember to remove hair or medical patches before applying pads.


- Avoid placing and AED pad directly over an implanted pacemaker.

- Adult pads are safe to use on children/infants if no Child Pads are available, using the front and back sandwich technique.

- Do not use Child Pads on an adult

To learn more, take a course! First Aid & CPR course dates available on CETS website.

What is in a Fast Response Kit and what is it used for?

A Fast Response Kit, sometimes called a Responder Kit, Prep Kit, or a Rescue kit, contains vital tools that will assist Rescuers during a Cardiac Emergency.

The kit is roughly the size of a pencil case and is typically clipped onto the AED carrying case or stored in a cabinet with the Defibrillator. It contains the following items:

  • Gloves: When performing First Aid or providing any type of Medical Assistance, it is essential for the Rescuer to protect themselves from the spread of infection by donning latex or nitrile gloves.

  • Medical Mask: Sometimes called a Surgical Mask, offers facial protection which is essential to protect the Rescuer and the Patient. The Rescuer should don facial protection, and if possible, may choose to place a face mask over the patient while preforming CPR, in order to reduce the spread of potentially infectious droplets.

  • Barrier Device: This may also be called a CPR mask, or Pocket Mask, and it is utilized for CPR when rescue breaths are being done (sometimes referred to as mouth-to-mouth). They come in many forms. The more basic versions resemble a square piece of plastic with a filter in the middle, while the more intricate versions are shaped to fit nicely to the face and form a seal and come with a protective flow valve for delivering breaths. This barrier device may not be needed, as there are many circumstances nowadays when compression-only CPR is recommended, but it should be kept with the AED to provide Rescuers with the option.

  • Razor: The AED pads need to be applied directly to the skin. If the patient has a hairy chest, this can prevent proper pad contact, thereby restricting its ability to deliver an effective shock. When excessive hair is present, the razor should be utilized to shave the area of the chest where the pads will be applied.

  • Towel: Water can prevent the pads from properly sticking to the patient’s chest and delivering an effective shock. In the case of sweating, swimming, or other sources of moisture, the chest will need to be dried prior to the pads being applied. It is very common for various bodily fluids to be present during a medical emergency, which would need to be wiped away from the chest and torso.

  • Scissors/Shears: When utilizing an AED, all of the patient's clothing needs to be removed from their front torso (this includes undergarments). Scissors are provided to cut the patient’s clothing as needed and can be useful for other purposes as well.

Whether the kit is purchased ready-to-go, or the components are assembled by the AED Owner, every AED should have this essential kit available for use.


Did you know that the Cochrane Activettes have placed more than a dozen AED units throughout the community of Cochrane Alberta? All of these units have been registered with the Alberta Health Services PAD program. READ ARTICLE



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