3 Differences Between Fully Automated AED and Semi-Automated AED


An automated external defibrillator is a crucial product in every paramedic’s toolkit. An AED is a battery-operated device that activates a corrective mechanism in the heart by passing an electric shock through it to help restore the heart’s regular rhythm. It is useful in cases of cardiac arrest and ventricular tachycardia. AEDs have saved many lives, particularly during the event of a heart attack. Due to its usability and ability to provide medical assistance immediately, the AED has become a staple for paramedics everywhere.

There are two major types of AEDs, fully automated AED and semi-automated AED. We will clarify the differences between these two types and debate over their benefits and potential pitfalls below.

1. Activation Button

A fully automated AED does not contain an activation button, better known as a “discharge button,” unlike semi-automated AEDs. The device is automatically activated as soon as the electrode pads are applied onto the patient’s chest, after which the fully automated AED will identify whether there is a need for defibrillation, and transfer an electrical shock through the heart by itself if needed. No additional human action is required.

A semi-automated AED, on the other hand, has a built-in discharge button that initiates the shock when pressed. This version of the AED requires human action for it to be able to deliver the shock to the patient’s heart. It also allows the administrator’s full control over when the shock is sent through the heart, which can be useful in some cases.

2. Ease of Access and Use

There are many benefits about the use of a fully automated AED. In terms of ease of use, the fully automated AED can be administered by someone with minimal training because it works without the need for activation through a button. It is perfect for emergencies and is a stress-free method that takes mere seconds [2].

An AED is excellent for public access defibrillation because of how easy it is to work with. The Good Samaritan laws [3]of the United States state that anyone can administer a fully automated AED in goodwill without being held liable for any loss or damage to the patient’s body. The fully automated AED does not require an expert paramedic but can boost the chances of patient survival regardless of who is administering it [4].

While people are strongly recommended to get trained on how to use a semi-automated AED, it is not as complicated as some perceive it to be. Semi-automated AED devices prompt the administrator to apply the defibrillation pads, stay clear of the patient, and press a button if defibrillation is needed, so the administrator just need to follow the instructions step by step to deliver an electrical shock.

If an electrical shock is not required, the administrator will not be advised to touch the button. Some semi-automated AEDs are ruled by voice command, and some have both voice and on-screen prompts. In such devices, the AED box “speaks” to the administrator, letting them know when it is time to press the button, and what they need to do next.

3. Cost

Though it’s minimal, there is a difference between the cost of a semi-automated and fully automated AED for some brands. The difference is generally around $100, which is not a lot compared to the price of an AED. However, there is no difference between the costs of batteries, pads, or other accessories for semi or fully automated AEDs.

More About AEDs

AED administration can help save the life of a person if a cardiac arrest occurs. The automated external defibrillator has been in use for decades and gained popularity in public spaces thanks to the work of NGOs, non-profits, and local health authorities, including the American Red Cross.

When it comes to healthcare, the risk is not an option, which is why Mindray offers a range of AEDs with both fully and semi-automated versions for public use. They guarantee reliable devices that will not malfunction in the event of an emergency, and will provide step-by-step voice instruction to guide rescuers through the life-saving CPR process.

When using an AED, be it a fully automated or semi automated one, the rescuer must notify people around the patient, primarily if the heart attack occurs in a public place, to stay away from the body. Anyone in contact with the patient during the time of AED activation may also receive an electrical shock, which could be harmful to them. Despite the fact that most AED would prompts bystander to stay clear as soon as the electrode pads are put into place, there may still be a chance of risks because of their lack of attention.


[1] Services, U. D. (n.d.). Defibrillators. Retrieved from National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/defibrillators

[2] DamirErkapic, T. B. (2013). Cardiac Defibrilliation. In T. B. DamirErkapic, Cardiac Defibrilliation (pp. 6-7). Books on Demand.

[3] State Laws on Heart Attacks and Defibrillators. (2002, August). Retrieved from Library of Congress: http://webarchive.loc.gov/all/20021016123247/

[4] Barnaby, B. J. (2007, June 15). “Do It Yourself: The Home Heart Defibrillator.” Retrieved from The New York Times: https://www.nytimes.com/2005/05/03/business/do-it-yourself-the-home-heart-defibrillator.html

[5] Chan, A. Y. (2008). Biomedical Device Technology: Principles and Design. Charles C Thomas Publisher Ltd.



Ashley Macdonald
Ashley has recently joined the FeedsPortal content writing team and brings with her a wealth of journalistic experience, which we believe our readers will find extremely useful.

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