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Where to Place AED Pads

You're in a busy office when suddenly, a colleague collapses near their desk. Everyone around freezes in panic. But, you remember the training session you attended just last month, where you learned the crucial role of quick action and the use of an automated external defibrillator (AED) device in such emergencies. Knowing that your actions could be the key to survival, you rush to grab the nearby AED.

Proper placement of AED pads is crucial in emergencies involving sudden cardiac arrest (SCA). SCAs can occur unpredictably in any setting, and the effectiveness of an AED depends significantly on the correct positioning of its pads. When AED pads are placed accurately, they enable the device to deliver an electric shock through the heart's optimal pathway, which can increase the likelihood of restoring a normal heart rhythm. The precision of pad placement can dramatically influence the outcome.

This guide provides clear, step-by-step instructions on the correct placement of AED pads so you’ll feel more prepared and confident to act during a crisis!

Where to Place AED Pads on the Victim

There are two methods of applying AED pads depending on whether the person suffering from SCA is an adult or a child.

For an Adult: Anterior Lateral

An adult will need the Anterior Lateral placement method, which means that one AED pad will go on the chest (anterior) and the other will go on the side (lateral).

  • Upper right chest: Place the first pad just above the nipple on the upper right side of the chest.
  • Lower left side: The second pad should be placed below the armpit on the lower left side of the chest.

This positioning allows the electric current to pass through the heart optimally, which is critical for the effective restoration of a normal heart rhythm.

For a Child: Anterior Posterior

Children and adults under 55 pounds will need the Anterior-Posterior placement method. “Anterior” means towards the front, while “Posterior” means towards the back, so this placement involves one AED pad on the front chest and the other on the back.

For children and smaller individuals:

  • Front and back placement: Place one pad in the center of the chest and the other on the center of the back between the shoulder blades.

Please note that in some cases, the AED kit will have an option for specially designed infant/child pads. If so, they can be placed as they would be for an adult with one above the right nipple and the second below the armpit on the lower left side of the chest. These pediatric pads produce a lower electrical current. No harm will come from using adult AED pads following Anterior Posterior placement! The major difference between adult and child pads is the size, which is why the adult pads are usually too large to safely fit in the Anterior Lateral placement.

Check your AED model to see if there’s an optional toggle for Child Mode, which will also decrease electrical current. If not, simply use the default adult mode.

Steps to Apply AED Pads

Now that you know where the AED pads will go, here’s a step-by-step walkthrough of how to put them on!

Turn on the AED

The first step is to turn on the AED as soon as you retrieve it. Most AEDs are designed for intuitive use, featuring a simple 'ON' button or automatically powering up when opened. The device will immediately begin to provide voice prompts, offering easy-to-follow instructions that will guide you through the process.

Expose the Chest

Time is critical in a cardiac emergency. Quickly remove any clothing that covers the victim's chest, including shirts and undergarments. If necessary, use scissors (usually included in the AED kit) to cut through the clothing efficiently. 

Prep the Area

The AED pads need to make clear, unobstructed contact with the skin in order to be effective. The AED kit includes a wipe to clean the skin of sweat and other liquids that would affect the pad’s ability to stick. If the victim has a very hairy chest, use the razor found in the AED kit to shave the areas where the pads will be placed to ensure good contact. Jewelry can stay as long as the pad is not being placed directly over it. Otherwise, remove jewelry, medical patches, and anything else conflicting with the AED pad area.

Special Considerations

  • Pacemakers: It is safe to use an AED on someone with a pacemaker! However, do not put the AED pad over the pacemaker. Move the pad at least one inch away. You can tell if someone has a pacemaker by checking for a small bulge under a scar on the upper left chest. Individuals wearing a pacemaker may also wear medical alert jewelry or carry a medical alert card in their wallet to indicate that they have one.
  • Bodies of Water: An AED will not work correctly underwater. If the SCA victim is submerged in water, move them to a different area before removing their wet clothes, wiping their chest area clean, and then applying the AED pads.

Be Prepared with Next-Level CPR/AED Training from Premedics

Empowering organizational staff with the knowledge to respond to sudden cardiac arrest emergencies is our mission at Premedics. As the pre-EMS industry’s leading AED readiness partner, we are your one-stop shop for all of your organization’s AED needs, including CPR/AED training!

“We had a gentleman collapse from a hightop-chair after returning from our go-cart course. There was a pause and I thought, “Who is going to help him?!” Then, the training kicked in, and I knew that person was me. The paramedics took seven minutes to arrive, which felt like an eternity. I am so thankful we had gotten training from Premedics.” 

James Burley
Franchise Owner, K1 Speed

Benefits of Premedics Training

The CPR/AED training from Premedics is unlike any other. Here’s why:

  • Device-Specific Training: All training is performed on the exact AED model your organization has.
  • Regular Practice: We provide regular demos and scenario practices (more than a single annual class) so the training stays top of mind for your staff.
  • All Are Welcome: Even non-certifying staff may sit in on the demos and scenario practice to gain crucial knowledge to save lives.
  • Training Certifications: Our nationally-recognized training center is aligned with the American Heart Assocation (AHA) and we offer CPR/AED certification, along with first aid and Bloodborne Pathogen and Emergency Oxygen training all in one.
  • Certification Tracking: Our innovative software will track all of your staff’s certification whether there’s five or five hundred across multiple locations. It will also send out automatic reminders 30 days before expiration so you are confident there are no lapses in training coverage.
  • Annual Inspections: A Premedics expert will travel to your facility every year to visually inspect the AED unit to ensure functionality.

You Can Save Lives!

Knowing how to use an AED and where to place AED pads can be the difference between life and death for family members, friends, colleagues, and strangers. You are doing the right thing by being proactive.

EHS Managers value partnering with Premedics because we offer comprehensive CPR/AED training programs, handle post-event maintenance, and provide ongoing support to ensure that you are always prepared. 

Let us help you keep your workplace safe! Contact us for training quotes or learn more about our all-inclusive AED subscriptions.