A (cardiac) defibrillator works by delivering the equivalent of a punch to the chest. For example, if someone fell down just now, you could punch them in the chest in hopes that you hit the right part of the electrical cycle, you’ll cause his heart to reset [draws imaginary EKG with fibrillation, which then flatlines and resets]. The trick is hitting it at the right time. If it doesn’t work your could try it again. That’s how AEDs work. They read the electrical cycle and punch at the right time.

But if you have an EKG, we just read it and punch. We trust our eyes more than we trust the algorithm…

And if the patient is going to be stationary for awhile we usually just attach electrodes. Then we can push a button to deliver the pulse. Using the pads can be awkward, and what if you were to bump into somebody?

(By my friend the heart surgeon over tea today.)

Cool! Now, where is our emotional reset button, how do we punch it, and how do we know when to punch it?

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