Basic FAQs

What is an AED?
An Automated External Defibrillator, also known as an ‘AED’ is a portable device that analyzes and identifies shockable heart rhythms, advises the rescuer of the need for defibrillation and delivers a shock if needed to restore a normal heart rhythm. An AED will only advise the rescuer to deliver a shock if the heart is in a rhythm which can be corrected by defibrillation.
Who can use an AED?
An AED will only advise the rescuer to deliver a shock if the heart is in a rhythm which can be corrected by defibrillation. They are also made to include voice and visual prompts. For this reason, AEDs are easy and safe to use. An AED can be used by anyone, regardless if they have been trained on them or not. However, it is highly recommended that everyone get certified in CPR and AED usage. CPR and AED training and familiarity will increase confidence in the rescuer which will lead to more efficient CPR and a more timely AED application and usage. Worried about using an AED? Don’t be. So long as you are using an AED to the best of your ability, you are covered under the Nova Scotia Volunteer Services Act (aka the Good Samaritan Act). You can view this by visiting the NS Legislature website at
How can I purchase an AED?
Emergency Health Services is in charge of the provincial AED Registry program. We do not sell AEDs nor do we endorse one make or model of AED over the other. We follow the Canadian Heart & Stroke suggestion to contact and/or compare each AED company and to make a decision based on your own organizational needs. We have organized a list of known AED suppliers in Nova Scotia for your convenience and that list can be found under the tab, “Nova Scotia CPR/AED Suppliers”. If you are a supplier of AEDs in Nova Scotia, please e-mail the coordinator at [email protected] to be placed on this list.
How do I maintain my AED?
All AED maintenance items should be covered by the manufacturer or vendor you purchased your device from; please refer to the manual that came with your AED at the time of purchase or donation. If you have any concerns about your device, please contact your vendor.
Where is the best location for me to install my AED?
Defibrillation is most successful if completed within 3-5 minutes of a cardiac arrest. Although there are no set guidelines on where to install your AED, there are some recommendations: Please visit CPR & AED Information: Where to start when purchasing an AED for location suggestions.
What is a heart attack?
Cardiac arrest and a heart attack are not the same thing. A heart attack occurs when blood flow is reduced or lost due to a blocked coronary artery. Person is generally conscious and in discomfort Blood flow, and therefore oxygen delivery, is blocked or minimized Signs can include: pale colour, profuse sweating, chest pain, nausea and/or vomiting, shortness of breath. While they are not the same thing, a heart attack can lead to cardiac arrest if it is not quickly treated. This is why both are serious medical emergencies and 9-1-1 should be activated as soon as possible.
What is sudden cardiac arrest?
Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) is when the heart suddenly stops beating normally and cannot pump blood to the rest of the body. This usually occurs unexpectedly. Person usually collapses without warning No breathing No movement No pulse Results in ineffective blood and oxygen flow to vital organs Cardiac arrest may have a variety of causes including heart disease, drowning, stroke, electrocution, suffocation, drug overdose, and trauma. In Canada, 35,000 – 45,000 people die of sudden cardiac arrest each year. Reference: Canadian Heart & Stroke