Resource Center Your Complete Guide on Purchasing and Implementing an AED Program

Escalating and Non-Escalating AEDs

Automated external defibrillators deliver their shocks in two types of protocols: escalating and non-escalating (or fixed). AED Brands sells both types. Learn which is right for you.

The reason for the two protocols is that there are several different schools of thought in the medical community. Some medical professionals think that a constant flow of low energy output (or fixed output) is sufficient for defibrillation. Others believe that having an AED capable of escalating its levels of energy is needed to re-shock victims who don’t respond to a first or second shock. Still other medical professionals believe that using an AED that can read the victim’s electrical impedance and vary the shock (a higher shock for higher impedance) is the most beneficial. AED Brands and/or a medical professional can help you decide which type may be better for your use.  

What are Joules?

“A unit of electrical energy equal to the work done when a current of 1 ampere is passed through a resistance of 1 ohm for 1 second."

The word "joules" is pronounced the same as the word “jewels” but joules (j) probably aren’t nearly as exciting as a bunch of diamonds, except maybe to a physicist! However, joules can be just as valuable as jewels especially when it comes to saving a life. Joules are the amount of energy an automated external defibrillator, or AED, delivers in a life-saving shock to the heart of a victim of sudden cardiac arrest (SCA). SCA occurs when a person’s heart begins to fibrillate or quiver out of control. Without a regular heartbeat, a person will collapse and quickly lose consciousness, and eventually stop breathing. Left untreated, the victim’s heart will stop beating and death will follow. An AED is the only way to get an SCA victim’s heart defibrillated or restarted.

James Prescott Joule was a 19th century physicist who discovered the first law of thermodynamics and who studied the amount of heat produced by an electric current. Joules are important in AEDs because they determine how much of an electric shock is delivered from the AED through the pads and into the victim. This electric shock is what restarts the heart.

No matter what type of automated external defibrillator you choose for your AED program, it is important to remember that having an AED on-site and having trained first responders available is vital for the health and safety of your employees and visitors to your building (or other public gathering place). Sudden cardiac arrest does not discriminate and all too often strikes young and old, healthy and unhealthy, rich and poor alike.