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What will the next AED be?

The following anonymous comment on Paramedic Future (Mitigation Journal July, 2009)

Anonymous wrote:
Thank you for your post. Examining your argument that technology will eventually replace the need for the paramedic I find some flaws. I feel like your argument is similar to saying why teach long division now that we have calculators. However, the computer diagnosis on the 12-lead is horribly unreliable. I don't know how many 911 calls I've made for "ST wave abnormality" on perfectly good 12-leads. As providers and educators we need to push for solid physical assessment skills and diagnostic skills. The ability to read and interpret a 12-lead is still a paramount paramedic skill. I currently work one of my jobs at a teaching hospital and while moving a trauma patient a physician shouted, "the patient is in v-tach!" the physician reached for the defibrillator without question as one of the medics explained that the alarm on the monitor was merely artifact from movement. If we've learned anything it is that common sense isn't common at all. We need to continue to educate and trust the interpretation of skilled providers over technology.
My response:

I don't believe that technology will replace paramedics. In fact:
" can't consider the patient as a whole and put all the assessment pieces together like a skilled paramedic can." 
In the original piece I bring up the possibility that reliance on technology may not be a good thing:
"...Like any other technology, once we become accustomed to it, we become dependent on it...In the case of EKG's I'm afraid we'll eventually decide we don't need to teach reading them any longer...what will we do when technology fails?"
The point is that technology may put appropriate diagnostic tools and treatment possibilities in the hands of more responders and may make it possible to speed treatment in the field, improved triage of limited (and costly) hospital specialty care services, and pave the way for advanced practice paramedics.

In the 1950's, CPR was a physician-only skill. Defibrillation was a paramedic skill until the 1980's. Today, both CPR and automated external defibrillators make it possible for almost any member of the public to improve survival from cardiac arrest. We have to think forward to what the next "AED" will be.


  1. How much training is needed to be able to use an AED machine properly?

  2. Use of an AED requires just a few hours training and is usually taught within a CPR class. Please email me and I'll send more detail.

  3. The awareness about Automated External Defibrillators should be created as its training ensures that the AED is used properly to give the greatest benefit and the highest chance of survival to the patient having cardiac arrest.


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