Monday, December 4, 2023


RVelectricity™ – Just Ask Mike (J.A.M.): Should I buy an AED?

Welcome to my J.A.M. (Just Ask Mike) Session, a weekly column where I answer your basic electrical questions. If you’re a newbie who’s never plugged in a shore power cord (or ask – what’s a shore power cord?), or wonder why your daughter’s hair dryer keeps tripping the circuit breaker, this column is for you. Send your questions to Mike Sokol at mike (at) with the subject line – JAM. This week I discuss AEDs.

Dear Mike,
Since my husband has a heart problem, we’re concerned about what would happen if he had a heart attack at a campground. I don’t remember seeing an AED at any of the campgrounds we’ve visited lately. Is this something we can get ourselves? Can a non-medical person use one in an emergency? —Sally G.

Dear Sally,
It’s great that you’re being proactive about this. If your husband had a heart attack at a campground, you are his best advocate. And you need two important items and a little extra training to help him.

Tick-tock – Time is everything!

Know that the first few minutes after someone has a heart attack or their heart has gone into fibrillation from electric shock is critical. So have your plan formulated in advance and make it happen.

He who hesitates is lost, so get your act into high gear. Since the average ambulance response time in America is more than 10 minutes (and lots longer at a remote campground), you have to be the first responder for your loved one.

Do you know where the campground AED (automated external defibrillator) is located?

Well, I’m not sure just how many campgrounds have an AED on location, but it’s best if you know exactly where it is BEFORE you need it. If they don’t have one on-site, then you should ask them “why not?” And I think it would be a good idea for you to get your own portable AED and carry it in your RV at all times.

Call 9-1-1 First

That’s right. Every CPR class I’ve been to and First Responder I’ve discussed this with has stressed that the first thing to do in any emergency situation is call 911. But realize that not all 911 services can identify your GPS coordinates automatically, so you need to know exactly where you are at all times, just in case you need to call in an emergency. So call 911, identify the problem, and ask how to proceed.

Take a CPR course in advance

I’ve promoted the idea of CPR classes at the RV rallies I’ve been to, but so far haven’t seen one. But I believe that a very basic Compression-Only CPR class would save lives, not just from electric shock, but also from heart attacks. Hey, none of us is getting any younger. And Compression-Only CPR doesn’t require you to breathe into anyone’s mouth. You can do it with a mask on, so don’t worry.

Buy an AED for yourself – It’s easy to use

These are really affordable nowadays, and they’re completely automated with voice commands. In fact, there was a case a few years back when a 10-year-old child without any training at all saved his grandfather’s life by using an AED. It’s easier than you think.

Now, I can’t recommend any specific brand or model, or even a site where you can buy one. So, you’ll need to research this for yourself. However, if this is a topic you’re interested in, I’ll do some more research and see what I can learn. (In the meantime, see editor’s note below.)

You might save a life and become a super hero

Yes, if you know some basic CPR skills and have an AED in your RV, you should consider putting a sign in the window of your RV if you’re comfortable with trying to help someone in trouble.

OK, everyone. Remember that electricity is a useful and powerful force, so we all need to pay attention to safety precautions while using it.

Let’s play safe out there….

Mike Sokol is an electrical and professional sound expert with 50+ years in the industry. His excellent book RV Electrical Safety is available at For more info on Mike’s qualifications as an electrical expert, click here.
Join Mike’s popular and informative Facebook group.
And you don’t want to miss Mike’s webcasts on his YouTube channel.

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Information from American Red Cross on AEDs and CPR
Information from American Heart Association on AEDs and CPR
From the editor: We are not necessarily endorsing this product, but so you can see what is available and get more information, here is an AED available on Amazon: Philips HeartStart Onsite AED. The description states, in part: “The Philips HeartStart OnSite Defibrillator is made for people who have never used a defibrillator before. The first and only defibrillator available without a prescription in the United States, it is designed to be easy to set up and use.”



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Wolfe (@guest_147760)
2 years ago

I did some research about whether AEDs need prescriptions (am I illegal to carry one even if certified?) and found that according to the Mayo Clinic the answer is NO – the entire point is that non-EMS have access. Being CPR/AED certified is certainly recommended, but again not prohibitive since the machine guides novice users and won’t zap unless needed (I’ve demo’d this and not been zapped yet!).

According to vendors, they “provide a prescription with the unit,” although I’m not quite sure what that means in light of the above.

Jeff Craig (@guest_147527)
2 years ago

I have the PulsePoint Respond and AED apps loaded on my camping smartphone, so we always have first aid info and know where a registered AED is nearby. (The only downside, you have to post that you HAVE an AED in the app). Still, it’s a good asset to have!

Chris (@guest_147390)
2 years ago

Now that I have joined the AFib club last July, I need to invest in an AED for our travel trailer. I have already put a good trauma kit from North American Rescue with two tourniquets in the camper. —Chris

Mike Albert (@guest_146872)
2 years ago

I Know I’m late in this discussion, but in most states, a doctors prescription IS NOT required. The American Heart Association teaches a CPR/ AED/ Stop the Bleed class that should be a requirement for everyone planning a road trip. You are the best person to help save someone’s life in an emergency when properly trained to stop bleeding and to start restart the heart and put it into the proper rhythm. It can be done by almost anyone. Take the course and be safe.

Irv (@guest_146822)
2 years ago

Even if the campground has an AED mounted outdoors so you could access it at night, you’d have to leave the victim alone and go to the office. Under the best of conditions that could take at least 5 minutes each way and possibly longer.

re: CPR isn’t a panacea. But it’s better than doing nothing…

Wolfe (@guest_147506)
2 years ago
Reply to  Irv

Assess the situation
Try to rouse the victim
Scream for 911/help/AED retrieval
Begin CPR to *buy time* for 911/AED
Begin AED to actually save them

CPR doesn’t restart the heart, but only keeps you alive long enough for 911/AED to actually save you – MUCH better than nothing.

Ron (@guest_146810)
2 years ago

We met Maurice one of the founders of Heartbeat NOLA while camping next to him in Roswell.

His is an amazing story of being saved by an AED. He and his wife founded the Heartbeat NOLA foundation to increase AED and CPR awareness.

He is also a talented musician who shares his survival story via music.

Gigi R (@guest_146792)
2 years ago

As a retired RN I suggest you look into the success rate of out of hospital CPR, while some do survive, they are often not in good shape….
Using an AED is simple once shown how it works and it’s success rate is much better if the problem is arrhythmia.
So check with your DR to see what exactly is your husband’s heart condition.

tom (@guest_146778)
2 years ago

Our travel club has an AED that deploys to all club functions. Members who carry the AED are also trained on it’s use. A bit pricy for individual purchase, but most travel cubs should be able to afford one. Amazon is your friend.

tom (@guest_146776)
2 years ago

Red Cross does CPR classes in most areas. Small price to pay for someone’s life.

Stephen Malochleb (@guest_146772)
2 years ago

I carry an AED in my MH. At every campout I let the group leader know that one is on site and what site number. I tell them I don’t care what time it is,bang on that door.

And you brought something to my attention, Our RV show in February has never had a CPR class. I think I will organize this for the upcoming show. Thank you.

Wolfe (@guest_147508)
2 years ago

Likewise and bravo. I have aspirin on my keychain 24/7 and AED with a window sign.

BTW: My AED came from an office required to have one, which closed and gave it to me. The battery may need replacement on a “used” unit, but that’s far less than new AED.

Fred (@guest_146771)
2 years ago

“Know where you are at all times”. We boondock a lot, so we bought a small 8 1/2″ x 11″ white board & mounted it on the fridge door, where we write down an address or description of where we’re spending the night. That way, if we’re in a panic, we can quickly give our location to a 911 operator. It’s a lot easier to figure out your location when you arrive than when you’re in the middle of a crisis. It may not even be your crisis, but that of a nearby camper.

Michael (@guest_147391)
2 years ago
Reply to  Fred

This is a great idea. If we are staying at an RV park, they almost always have a document or receipt with their name and address. After reading this comment, our plan is to have a designed place (the fridge door) to stick it. In the case of boondocking, it will be a slip of paper. Thanks for the suggestion! It could be a life-saver.

Kasey (@guest_146770)
2 years ago

Great Q&A! Also, don’t forget the part of the training where you audibly shout for help. I’m AED and CPR trained, and I always look for the presence and location of AED units at campgrounds. If I heard someone shout for an AED I would go running for one, then of course assist until paramedics arrived.

Wolfe (@guest_147510)
2 years ago
Reply to  Kasey

Thank you. 🙂

Rosy (@guest_146768)
2 years ago

Dear Sally, what did your husband’s physician and or his cardiologist tell you when you and your husband discussed your concerns with them first?

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