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An automated external defibrillator (AED) is a device about the size of a laptop computer that analyzes the heart's rhythm for any abnormalities and, if necessary, directs the rescuer to deliver an electrical shock to the victim. This shock, called defibrillation, may help the heart to reestablish an effective rhythm of its own.

An AED is easy to operate. Using verbal commands, it walks the rescuer through the appripriate actions.

When the machine is turned on, the rescuer will be prompted to apply two electrodes provided with the AED to the victim's chest. Once applied, the AED will begin to monitor the victim's heart rhythm. If a "shockable" rhythm is detected, the machine will charge itself and instruct the rescuer to stand clear of the victim and to press the shock button.

Training is necessary in order to understand the role of defibrillation in the broader context of the cardiac chain of survival. Training in CPR and AED skills will enable the rescuer to use all the steps in the cardiac chain of survival, thereby significantly increasing the victim's chance of survival.

Although a cardiac emergency should always prompt an immediate call to the local emergency medical services , the Automated External Defibrillators (AED's) for Scuba Diving Program educates the general diving (and  qualified non diving public) to provide first aid using Basic Life Support techniques  and Automated External Defibrillators.  This skill may prove to be lifesaving when you consider that diving is often conducted in remote  locations, far removed from emergency medical help.  For more than a decade, DAN has emphasized the benefits of providing oxygen to injured scuba divers.