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Implementing an AED Program

Importance of AED Programs

Nick of Time Foundation strongly encourages schools, organizations and communities to implement an AED program to increase the chances of survival for people who have heart-related emergencies. With an AED program, a person will be better prepared to save the life of a friend, family member, coworker, or stranger. With a good implementation plan and proper training, one can help save more lives. The goal of every AED program is to deliver defibrillation to a cardiac arrest victim within three to five minutes after collapse.

Legal Issues

All 50 states and the District of Columbia now include using an AED as part of their Good Samaritan laws. The Cardiac Arrest Survival Act of 2000 encourages placement of AEDs in federal buildings and ensures federal liability protection for those who acquire or use an AED to help save a life. In addition, this act provides limited immunity to persons using the AED and the purchaser of the AED device. These acts vary by state, but generally, they limit the liability of rescuers using AEDs and others involved in the AED program.

Key Steps to Implementing an AED Program

  1. Get medical oversight.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) may require a physician’s prescription to purchase an AED. The role of the physician varies depending on the size and other characteristics of the program. The designated program coordinator should be responsible for day-to-day program implementation. The responsibilities of the physician may include signing off on or making recommendations on training plans and policies and procedures, evaluating data recorded on an AED during a medical emergency and helping assess each use of an AED to recommend any improvements.

  1. Work with local EMS.

Working with your local EMS system is a key step to implementing an AED program. Most states require you to coordinate your AED program with local EMS and to provide follow-up data to EMS after any use of the AED. In states that require registration or application for AED programs, the physician or program coordinator completes this process.

  1. Choose an AED.

There are several AEDs on the market that are suitable for a school, community, or organization’s AED program. The AED you choose should be simple and easy to use.

  1. Contact technical support.

Make sure you have technical support when your AED device requires it. Call the manufacturer’s technical support number and see what kind of response you get. Is a representative available to help you right away? Are you on hold for a long time? Does your call go to voice mail? Also, be sure to research the history of the manufacturer from which you are considering purchasing the AED.

  1. Make sure program support is available.

Some AED manufacturers provide help with program implementation and ongoing support. They can assist with placement, medical authorization, registration, training, and supplies. Review your capabilities and determine if services like these would be helpful in deploying your AED program.

  1. Place your AEDs in visible and accessible locations.

Place your AED(s) in a visible and accessible location. They should never be kept in a locked cabinet or office for optimal emergency response time. Effective AED programs are designed to deliver a shock to a victim within 3 to 5 minutes after the person collapses. Use a 3-minute response time as a guideline to help you determine how many AEDs you need and where to place them. Once an AED is installed, it is important to let everyone know where the device is located. You can do this via an email blast, website, newsletter, social media, local media or newspaper, poster, signage or other means to promote your AED program. Encourage your members to get certified in CPR/AED instruction.

  1. Develop a training plan.

People are more likely to use an AED if they are familiar with the device and realize how easy and safe it is to use. Training increases the comfort and confidence level of responders. The objective of a training plan is to have an adequate number of CPR/AED trained people at an event to handle an emergency incident in a safe and timely manner.

  1. Raise awareness of the AED program with an emergency action plan (EAP).

After initial implementation of the AED program, provide information to interested persons. You may want to use internal newsletters, posters, magnets, signage or other means to promote your AED program and identify where the devices are located. By continually raising awareness of the program, you reinforce to everyone that your school, community, or organization is committed to their safety.

  1. Implement an ongoing maintenance routine.

It is important to do a weekly or monthly visual inspection of the AEDs to ensure they are in working order. The program coordinator or another designated person can do the inspections. This person develops a written checklist to assess the readiness of the AEDs and supplies. A checklist supplements regularly scheduled, more detailed inspections recommended by the manufacturer. Also, talk with your manufacturer regularly to get the latest information about software updates or upgrades