Retrieve AED data after use

Dec 5, 2013 by Keith Murray


I received calls from two crew members recently who used their Automated External Defibrillator (AED) to save lives, and both patients are expected to make a full recovery. These clients asked for my help in getting the AED back into service.

When an AED is used, you should replace the battery, electrode pads and ready kit. You should also downloading the event data. The event data will show what happened during the rescue. Every AED has the ability to record the event that takes place during a cardiac emergency. All AEDs store event information and it can be downloaded from the AED for review.

Please note that the rescue data is only stored temporarily and should be downloaded before removing or replacing the battery and putting the AED back into service.

Once an event has occurred — despite a positive or negative outcome — you should download the event data and either retain this information onboard or, if you work with a yacht management company, forward this data to the manager for review.

Currently, every AED on the market will record a minimum of 15 minutes of ECG analysis. Some AEDs can record up to 8 hours of ECG or a short duration of both audible and ECG data. To find out your device’s capability, consult the user’s manual.

Instructions on how to download a cardiac event from your defibrillator are included in each AEDs owner’s manual. You will need special “event review” software for your specific AED that will allow you to download and review the event data. You will also need a special cable that links the AED to your computer.

To download the event data, you must first have a computer with the appropriate manufacturer’s software. Most manufacturers offer a basic version that can be downloaded for free.

After downloading the software, the AED must be connected directly to the computer to review the event data. Currently, there are two methods for connecting and accessing this data:

* IRDA adapter: The plugs into the computer’s USB and allows the data to be transferred from the AED to the computer by lining up the infrared windows.

* Data cable: This cable plugs into both the computer’s USB port and the AED. It allows data to be transferred through a direct connection between the AED and the computer.

After a connection has been established, the manufacturer’s software program should be run to receive the data from the AED. After the data is downloaded, it can be e-mailed or printed, depending on the software’s capabilities.

For those not familiar with an AED, it is a portable, battery-operated electronic device about the size of a laptop. It automatically diagnoses the potentially life-threatening cardiac arrhythmias of ventricular fibrillation and ventricular tachycardia in a victim and is able to treat the patient by an electrical shock to stop the arrhythmia, allowing the heart to re-establish an effective rhythm.

AEDs are designed to be simple so that anyone can use one. They are so simple that I often start my training classes by selecting someone who has never seen an AED and asking them to use it by following the AED’s voice instructions.

The price on AEDs has fallen over the past 10 years with prices ranging from $1,150 to about $1,700. Although AEDs are not inexpensive, they are invaluable if they save your life, or the life of a loved one, friend, crew member or guest.

All yachts should have at least one AED on board. Many of the yachts I work with have one onboard and another in the tender. Having a second AED is essential if you do a lot of diving.


Keith Murray, a former firefighter EMT, owns The CPR School, a first-aid training company. He provides onboard training for yacht captains and crew and sells and services AEDs. Contact him at 877-6-AED-CPR, 877-623-3277 or Comments on this column are welcome at