Study objective: To investigate the performance of basic trained ambulance personnel using an automated external defibrillator (AED) after a short training program.
Methods: One hundred ninety ambulance attendants working in London received six and one-half hours training in the use of an AED, with written feedback and continuing education regarding performance after training. Performance was assessed over a period of 15 months by analysis of report forms and ECG/audible cassette tapes from the patients who were treated.
Results: Staff were able to operate the defibrillator correctly in 96% of cases and followed the protocol sequence taught in 34% of cases. The median time taken to activate the defibrillator following arrival of the ambulance at the scene of cardiac arrest was four minutes (range, one to 13 minutes). In 32% of cases, patients were intubated erroneously or moved to the ambulance before the AED was attached.
Conclusion: The short course with continuing education was sufficient to train staff in AED operation, but errors in protocol compliance occurred throughout the trial.