Shopping for an Automated External Defibrillator

Disclaimer: This is not an ad. This is my personal experience and decision that I’m sharing so it may help others in the same decision making process.

“So, it talks me through everything?”

“Yes! Just press the power button and it will talk through every detail like cutting the clothes, opening the pad holder etc.”

“Awesome.” I responded.

Mom and I were at St. John Ambulance, ready to buy the mysterious AED. We had two choices:

1) Phillips Heartstart OnSite Defibrillator



2) ZOLL AED Plus Semi Automatic


“What’s the difference between the two?” I asked.

“Well the ZOLL seems to be in a sturdier casing, and the top comes off and can be used as a head rest for the person. The pads for this one are also connected so it’s easier to decipher which goes where. You can’t really get it wrong.”

I poked at it a bit. Seemed bigger than I’d hoped.

“The Phillips one is smaller and more compact…” she continued.

I’ll take it!

“…it has it’s own case and everything.”

The look of the Phillips was awesome but I didn’t wanna run with it because of cosmetics. It’s supposed to save my life after all.

“The ZOLL says it’s Semi Automatic, does that mean the Philips isn’t fully Automatic?Aren’t they both supposed to be fully automatic anyway?” Mom asked intelligently. I definitely got that gene from her.

“Hmmm they’re both automatic, I’m not sure why it says that.” The lady replied.

My distraught look must have resonated through the hallways because a lovely gentleman walked up and inquired, “Would you like some help figuring it out?”

“Yes!” I exclaimed.

“Okay well, the Philips has scissors included in the kit to cut away the clothes. There’s also room allotted at the top of the case for spare pads and a spare battery. I recommend having spares on you at all times. This power button turns it on and will instruct you exactly how and when you need to do anything, pad application, shock etc. Press the power button again to turn it off. Also, there’s a light that continuously flashes through the case that indicates the battery is good to go and the AED is ready for use. So you can always be sure it will work. Here I’ll show you.”

He proceeded to walk down the hallway and he showed us their wall mounted AED. It was the exact Phillips model just like the above option. If a First Aid training company prefers these in their facilities, I’m pretty sold.

“See the light?” He said.

“That’s so great! Very reassuring.” I answered.

“Best thing of all. Worst case scenario if you use the AED is you waste a set of pads. If the machine doesn’t detect an arrhythmia or tachycardia it won’t shock even if you press the shock button. So you can’t hurt anyone.”

I almost sighed in relief audibly. I would be relying mostly on my friends and family who may not be trained in using these. But knowing it can’t go wrong instantly made me feel a lot better.

“What are you using this for?” He inquired.

“Myself.” I despondently responded.


“Yeah. I just found out I have a gene for a heart condition where the #1 symptom may be sudden death so…”

Damn, this is awkward.

“Oh…okay well. I wasn’t trained on the ZOLL but I know technically they do the same thing. You turn it on it talks you through. It advises you to shock so you press the button to shock and they both talk you through CPR if it’s a flat lining issue. With the Phillips you just press the Information button and it will talk you through all the timing of breaths versus chest compressions.”

Well they both talk, that’s important.

I thanked the gentleman for his help and looked through the comparison chart on the pamphlet they gave me. If I’m gonna buy a lifesaver I gotta get the research right the first time.

“…the Philips not only records the entire event but it records 15 minutes worth of an ECG too! That’s perfect for my doctors. I want this one!” I decide.

“You sure that’s the one you want dear?” Mom asked inquisitively.

“Completely. It’s the perfect size, it has room for spares, it has a battery indicator light and takes an ECG! I want this one.” I shove the box to the lady behind the counter.

As she rings the box through I get a sense of urgency. Like a fleeting sense of security is within sight but not within reach. I breathe and try to stay calm. So close.

Walking out of the building AED in hand I feel another weight slowly lift away from my shoulders. Geez, since I got the news how much have I been bench pressing here?

“None of them have zippers!” I groaned.

Mom and I went straight to Winners to get a gorgeous bag to hold my new AED.

“Ooooh! What about this one!”

Shopping always helps me feel better.

“Too big, the AED is big enough I don’t wanna carry around a luggage bag.”

It was diffult to find one that would fit and also had a proper closure. Why do people want purses that are wide open for all to see? Don’t they drop things or anything?

We decided on a cute purse that had enough room for my AED, wallet and phone and a little backpack that did the very same.

I walked out of the store ready to rock and roll. Clutching the AED like a security blanket. I can do this. I’m safe now. Nothing can stop me.

Damn this blasted thing.

Yesterday I clutched it like a scared child. Today it felt like a reminder of my doom.

I ran my errands with it, feeling it’s weight. Every time I opened it the bright red of the case glared at me with obnoxious exuberance. In 24 hours this thing became the biggest example of my weakness, vulnerability and danger. How on earth am I going to get used to this?

It’s been almost two weeks since I got the AED as I write this. I’ve stuck to my guns in carrying it with me. I still wasn’t sure about it all for a while. I felt detached, stand off-ish  but I never wavered the habit.

Then I went to see my cardiologist, the details of which is for another post. As we walked the halls to the office I noticed something on the wall. Their AED. It was a Phillips. The exact model I had on me. I clutched the straps to my bag and for a moment, I felt it was all meant to be.

“Look! It’s your AED!” Mom exclaimed.

“It is…” I couldn’t help but smile.

A lot of people would think this a small coincidence. I don’t think that state of mind is very fun at all. At this point it’s only been 2 weeks since I got the news and so much has happened in so little time. My whole perspective on life has taken a 180. I’ve had to consider changing my long term plans for my future, career and family life. There’s a giant new list of to do’s now that it may limit some choices I will make.

I’m very lucky. I never wanted to be a professional athlete, I never drank much, not even carbonated beverages, I eat pretty clean. I’ve even wondered perhaps the reason why I’m not showing symptoms is because I’ve always taken care of myself, never vexed my body past it’s physical limit. The sacrifices I’ve had to make aren’t significant. They probably won’t be for some time. I know comparatively to others who face sudden major diagnoses I’ve got it pretty damn good.

That doesn’t stop me from tearing up at the idea of someday meeting my future husband and explaining to him what chances we’re taking in passing this gene to our kids. That every birth I experience I will have to wonder if they won or lost the genetic lotto. Which of my future children are forced to face this frightening reality? That’s not including the medical procedures they will have to witness their mother going through, knowing that they may be next. Technological advances will be amazing by then, but a great risk is always there.

I’ve gained enough resiliency in my life for a lot of reasons. Mostly life experience and a will to not only survive, but thrive. I can honestly say with pure conviction I would not be so resilient if it wasn’t for knowing that deep down everything happens for a reason. Some people call that religion, or spirituality, some others are turned off by those terms now a days. If you’re reading this and that’s the case think of it as a Greater Purpose. It’s not about just me, or you, or any one person. It’s about us, and our experience together.

My Nan used to always say, “God will never give you more than you can handle.”

I was trained in my previous life experiences to now handle, this. Something that was written in my DNA since the moment I was conceived, I face now. After my biggest personal challenges through my teen years that even I never thought I could conquer. I did it anyway. Because I believed in….something bigger and more meaningful than what I felt was challenging me. If I had gotten the news during that time in my life it would have destroyed me. Instead I face it now, with an arsenal of strategies and skills to navigate and overcome it with great victory.

A perfect mix of fate and life decisions. We do have control, of ourselves, our choices, and most importantly our thought process. Some would argue they can’t control emotions but I say this; your thoughts provoke emotions, so choose your thoughts wisely.

I choose to take every small thing and allow it to inspire me. I choose to find a reason to do more, do better. I choose to find ways to overcome my greatest challenges in positive healthy constructive ways and nothing less. I choose this AED to show me that I am right where I’m supposed to be. Even if it’s not what I wanted.

Since that day at the hospital I’ve carried the AED with no notice of it as either a security blanket or a destructive reminder. It’s there if I need it. That’s what matters. It’s a part of my life, I can accept that, and I got a pretty cute purse out of it too!


May Your Adventures be Wild and Your Heart be Strong,


~ Chelsea Alice ~




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