Fully Automatic or Semi-Automatic AED: Which Should You Choose?

An AED, or Automated External Defibrillator, is a lifesaving device in the event of a sudden cardiac arrest (SCA). And according to the Singapore Heart Foundation, over 3,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests occur in Singapore. When someone goes into SCA, their heart rhythm is interrupted, and an AED machine is necessary to shock the heart back into a normal rhythm. While AED machines are indeed easy to use and can be found in many public places, it is important to note that there are two types of devices available — semi-automatic AEDs and fully automatic AEDs. While both share some similarities in terms of their purpose and user-friendliness, there are a few key functional differences that one needs to be aware of to make an informed decision. What are their differences and which should you choose to have installed in your office, home, or other premises? We cover their distinguishing factors in this blog.

Fully and Semi-Automatic AED Similarities

Before we take a deep dive into the differences between fully and semi-automatic AED machines, note that there are a few common features shared between the two. For one, as mentioned, both types of AED machines are used to treat sudden cardiac arrest by analysing the heart rhythm of the patient and delivering an electric shock to the heart to restore a normal rhythm. Designed to provide visual and audible prompts to guide the user through the defibrillation process, these modern life-saving devices can be utilised even by individuals with little to no medical training. 

Differences Between Fully and Semi-Automatic AEDs

While both AED machines provide clear and concise instructions throughout the defibrillation process, the biggest difference between the two comes down to whether the shock will be delivered automatically or only when the shock button is pressed manually. Due to this singular distinguishing feature, there is a long list of differences to take into account when deciding on which defibrillator to choose:

1. Speed of Treatment

With a semi-automatic AED, responders must manually deliver the shock when prompted by the device, whereas with a fully automatic AED, the device will take over to monitor and analyse the patient’s heart rhythm before automatically delivering a shock when it determines one is needed. This means that fully automatic AEDs have the potential to provide treatment faster than semi-automatic devices. How so? Since the rescuer is relied upon to press the shock button of the semi-automatic AED, extended periods of hesitation or even shock are factors that might hinder an individual from treating the patient promptly. This is where the fully-automatic AED has the upper hand due to its ability to administer the shock automatically when required, without any additional human involvement beyond the application of the electrode pads to the patient. 

2. Control Over the Situation

From the above, it is clear to see that with a semi-automatic AED, responders have sole control over when to deliver a shock whereas with a fully automatic device, responders do not. This means that responders must be comfortable with relinquishing some control over SCA treatment for a fully automatic device to be used. On the same note, some users feel more comfortable with a semi-automatic AED because they feel like they have more control over the situation. But this increases the chances of user errors such as pressing the shock button at the wrong time or not pressing the button at all. 

However, it is important to remember that both types of AED machines will only deliver a shock if one is needed — the user does not have to worry about accidentally shocking someone who does not need it. 

3. Ease of Use

Both semi-automatic and fully automatic AED machines are designed to be easy to use, even for those with no medical training since clear and concise instructions are provided. That being said, some may find one type of AED easier to use than the other. For example, with a fully automatic AED, the extra step of ensuring that no one is touching the patient or holding their hands before administering the shock must be taken. Either way, it is crucial to read the instructions carefully and familiarise yourself with the device, or even go for a defibrillator training before using it in an emergency. 

Choosing an AED Machine that is Right for You 

Ultimately, the decision of whether to get a semi-automatic or fully automatic defibrillator comes down to personal preference. There are benefits and drawbacks to both types of devices, so it is important to choose one that best caters to your needs and experience. If you are looking for speed and efficiency, then a fully automatic defibrillator is likely your best bet. However, if you want more control over the situation or you’re worried about incorrectly using the device, then you might prefer a semi-automatic defibrillator. No matter which type of defibrillator you choose, remember that taking the first step to equip your premise with an AED kit means that you are making an important decision to help save lives.

At HTM Medico, we have high-quality AEDs for sale as well as CPR and AED certification courses designed to train individuals on how to do CPR and use AEDs properly. Our LIFEPAK CR2 defibrillator is available in fully and semi-automatic models. The HeartSine AEDs has several models — semi-automatic HeartSine 350P, fully automatic HeartSine 360P, and semi-automatic HeartSine 500P with CPR Advisor. Whether you are looking for a fully or semi-automatic AED, you’ll be able to find an AED machine that can help save lives in the event of a sudden cardiac arrest. 

If you are unsure about which type of AED is right for your workplace or premise, we’re here to help equip you with high-quality products and services. Feel free to contact us at (65) 6744-5911 or sales@htmmedico.com.sg to learn more about our CPR + AED Certification training course in Singapore and AED machines and take the necessary precautions to keep those around you safe.