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Comparison of automatic vs semiautomatic automated external defibrillators used by laypersons


The survival rate in cases of cardiac arrest depends mainly on the availability of and the time to defibrillation. It is widely accepted that the use of automated external defibrillators (AED) by trained medical or nonmedical personnel improves survival rates. So far there have been no definitive recommendations about the content and duration of teaching programs.

Methods and results

As laypersons, all 236 first-year medical students in their first weeks of medical formation were chosen to demonstrate the use of semiautomatic and automatic AED in mock cardiac arrest scenarios without any instructions. The students were evaluated once, followed by a second test 1 week later after attending specified instructions. Comparing time to shock between semiautomatic and automatic AED, the subjects were significantly faster during both evaluations using the semiautomatic device (77.5 ± 20.5 vs 85.2 ± 17 s; P ≤ 0.01 and 55 ± 10.3 vs 59.6 ± 9.6 s; P ≤ 0.01). A total of 92.4% subjects with the semiautomatic and 95.8% with the automatic demonstrated a safe usage.


Untrained laypersons are able to use semiautomatic as well as automatic AED fast, safely and sufficiently. After one use and nonspecific instructions to the used device, improvements of their practical performance is significant. These findings encourage simplifying technology for AED in future and it reinforces that design, construction and visual aids have an effect on the performance of the users. Further development of simple devices with clear and obvious visual and audible instructions has to be done.

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Beckers, S., Fries, M., Bickenbach, J. et al. Comparison of automatic vs semiautomatic automated external defibrillators used by laypersons. Crit Care 8 (Suppl 1), P293 (2004).

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