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Prehosp Emerg Care. 2003 Jul-Sep;7(3):307-11.

The safe use of automated external defibrillators in a wet environment.

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Philips Medical Systems, Seattle, Washington 98121, USA.


There has been concern regarding potential shock hazards for rescuers or bystanders when a defibrillator is used in a wet environment and the recommended safety procedure, moving the patient to a dry area, is not followed.


To measure the electrical potentials associated with the use of an automated external defibrillator (AED) in a realistically modeled wet environment.


A raw processed turkey was used as a patient surrogate. The turkey was placed on a cement floor while pool water was applied to the surrounding area. To simulate a rescuer or bystander in the vicinity of a patient, a custom sense probe was constructed. Defibrillation shocks were delivered to the turkey and the probe was used to measure the voltage an operator/bystander would receive at different points surrounding the surrogate. The test was repeated with salt water.


The maximum voltage occurred approximately 15 cm from the simulated patient and measured 14 V peak (current 14 mA peak) in the case of pool water, and 30 V peak (current 30 mA peak) in the case of salt water.


Thirty volts may result in some minor sensation by the operator or bystander, but is considered unlikely to be hazardous under these circumstances. The maximum currents were lower than allowed by safety standards. Although defibrillation in a wet environment is not recommended practice, our simulation of a patient and a rescuer/bystander in a wet environment did not show significant risk should circumstances demand it.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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