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How do I get AED Certification?

By Vanessa Harvey
Updated Feb 29, 2024
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To get automated external defibrillator (AED) certification, you will need to satisfactorily complete a training course, after which you must pass a written evaluation, a practical evaluation or both. Training courses that lead to AED certification include classes in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) for the adult or child, first aid classes and online courses in AED operation. You should consider your reason for getting AED certification before enrolling in a training program. If you need certification to satisfy a requirement of your employer or as a prerequisite to basic life support (BLS) training, make sure that the course that you take will lead to a certification that will be accepted by the employer or higher level medical training program that you plan to follow. An AED certification that you can print out yourself after completing an online test generally is not acceptable for entry into higher level medical training programs.

Completion of a class or course leading to AED certification typically involves attending classes in person or online to receive instruction in the purpose, use and maintenance of both types of AED — the fully automated AED and the semi-automated AED. There is little difference between the two versions; basically, the semi-automated version requires the operator to push a button to deliver a shock if a shockable rhythm is analyzed. The fully automated version will deliver the shock for you if one is indicated. People who have received AED certification should also understand the importance of maintaining the equipment and keeping the batteries charged.

Among the things you can expect to learn and practice during your training for AED certification are when and how to use the equipment as well as when its use is contraindicated. You should receive instruction for using an AED on an adult, on a child and on victims who have surgically implanted cardiac devices such as a pacemaker or a nitroglycerin patch. Unless you are taking an online class, expect to be required to get hands-on practice with adult and child dummies and a practice AED. The course should expose you to a real AED as well.

People who hold AED certification should also know how to coordinate defibrillation with CPR, because this is the normal course of action for a victim in cardiac arrest. It is important to understand when to begin CPR first and when to use the AED first. This is why your course should cover at least the basics of the mechanical and electrical system of the heart. You would then have at least a rudimentary understanding of shockable and non-shockable rhythms.

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