To be prepared for an emergency let’s look at AED warnings and alarms. The automated external defibrillator is a sophisticated tool used to help those experiencing sudden cardiac arrest. In fact, a study has proven that people that have received an AED shock have a higher chance of survival. This device is designed in such a way that it can practically lead you through the whole process of administering shocks by giving you audio or visual guides.
However, these devices, like any other, can be faulty. That is why AEDs can perform numerous self-tests on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis.In response to these self-tests, when the AED detects any possible issues, it also sounds or exhibits a visual or audio alert.
Various reasons stand behind a beeping AED which we will cover throughout this article while also discussing the right way to approach them.
Reasons for AED Warnings and Alarms
Individuals working as part of emergency medical services must be well-informed and know how to handle different situations. Since AED training is part of the regular training of medical professionals, they must also be aware of AED maintenance.
Most of the AED units have both an audio and visual alert designated to notify users of system failures such as low-life batteries. Overall, there are five main reasons why a device might emit warning sounds. These are aimed at notifying you that attention is needed.
When an AED sounds its alarms, the problem is not always maintenance related. There might be possible circuitry issues that interfere with the device’s functionality. Internal issues usually include software malfunctions and electrical issues. These require immediate attention as the device will not be able to perform optimally with such an error in its functionality.
As with any modern device, the defibrillator also needs regular software updates. Alarms might be frequent in order to inform you that an update needs to be installed. If the defibrillator has Wi-Fi connectivity, installing the update will be quick and easy; however, if this is not the case, you should contact the manufacturer and see how to solve the issue quickly.
Disconnected Electrode Pads
In order for the AED to be able to perform all its procedures properly, the electrode pads must remain connected at all times. Loosened or disconnected pads can often be the reasons why you receive beeping alerts and warnings from the device. The AED signals that it is not able to administer the shock as there is a missing component to its structure.
Expired Electrode Pads
Electrode pads have a shelf life of between 2 to 5 years. The adhesive gel these pads hold allows them to adhere to the skin of the patient experiencing a heart attack or cardiac arrest. The gel also has limited integrity and dries out over time which is why it is important to replace the pads timely.
It often happens that the AED sounds its warning to remind you that the pads are nearing their expiration date and should be replaced as soon as possible.
One of the most common reasons why the AED might be intermittently emitting beeping sounds is that the power of the battery is very low. This alert is set to ensure that medical professionals are not caught by surprise in the middle of an emergency situation.
The sounding of the alarm varies from one model to another, and you will find that some will beep every 60 seconds while others are set to notify of expired batteries with 30-second beeps.
AED Warnings and Alarms: Preventing Beeping
The only way to prevent potential issues and the sounding of AED alarms is to stay up-to-date – maintenance-wise. There are various practices that you may employ in order to ensure that the AED device remains in proper function, including:
- Storing the AED in a dry place with a neutral temperature.
- Installing software updates as soon as they are available.
- Being aware of expiration dates and replacing parts timely.
- Make sure the electrode pads are always connected to the device.
How to Approach a Beeping AED
To identify the type of issue that contributes to the AED sounding its alarms, you will have to do a bit of troubleshooting.Below we give several ways to do so.
Inspect Storage Environment
Automated external defibrillators are designed to withstand extreme temperatures, but this is only for a limited period of time. This means that storing them in extremely hot or cold environments is not recommended.
Improper storage may result in many unwanted circuitry issues, which is why you must pay extra attention to your storage of choice. If you think the storage temperature is not optimal, move the defibrillator to a more neutral temperature and see if the warnings continue.
Examine the Visual Display
AED devices that have a visual display are easier to navigate, and it is easier to decode the issue at hand. The message on the device’s display can be simple and include an instruction such as “Replace Battery”, but this is not always the case.
In some cases, you might just see an error code. Then it is best to refer to the user manual for more specific instructions.
Conducting Manual Self-Tests
Some models don’t have a visual display. But it often happens that even the ones that do, have a faulty display, i.e., it appears blank. In such situations, manual self-tests of the device are the best option
Some models that don’t have a visual display will self-test if the user holds the power button. Other models might require you to remove and reinsert the battery to initiate a self-test or hold the on/off button for a few seconds. The procedure varies across different models, which is why it is essential that you consult the device’s manual.
How to Turn Off AED Alarm
Understanding AED Warnings and Alarms involves knowing how to turn it off. Once you have identified the problem, you will be able to take appropriate action. However, even after you have acknowledged the problem, you might not be able to act on it right away.
For example, you might have to replace the electro pads, but the new ones haven’t arrived yet, meaning you are not in a position to act until they do. Normally, the AED will continue to emit regular warnings, and while some recommend shutting down the device until the required maintenance is complete, others advise the opposite.
Shutting down the AED is recommendable only in cases of software errors and circuitry issues. Otherwise, it is better to leave the device as it is, have it ready and live through the alarms and warnings.
The AED Cabinet Alarm
This is a type of AED alarm that is important for both medical professionals and those that plan on purchasing or using one for their individual needs. Most AED cabinets are armed and emit both a visual and an audio alarm once opened.
The majority of models are designed to quiet down as soon as you close the door; however, this is not the case for all. Some models require you to insert and turn the key. Nonetheless, if the methods we mentioned above fail to do the trick with this type, you should wait for a minute or two, and the alarm is likely to shit down on its own.
AED Program Management
If you own one or more AED devices, keeping track of the dates and maintenance can be difficult. In order to comply with federal and state laws, you should consider opting for AED Program Management.
This program ensures that AED devices are always up to date. The number of devices you have can be tracked by using such software – this, of course, depends on your provider of choice. The market offers different options, and you will find that some providers offer AED programs with up to 100 AED devices.
Wrapping Up: AED Warnings and Alarms
The most important thing that medical professionals should keep in mind is that the alarms and beeping warnings are not curated to annoy them. Instead, these are set in place to ensure that the device is always in proper function and will be a reliable tool in cases of cardiac arrest.
The best approach is to consult with the device’s manual in order to find the proper approach for your specific AED model. Additionally, we also recommend signing up for AED Program Management if you or your organization owns multiple AED devices. This should provide you with enough information to understand AED warnings and alarms. It is also a good idea to consider taking a CPR class for a certification.