There can be no doubt that automated external defibrillators (AEDs) can save lives. While live-saving, however, giving an electrical shock to a person is not without risk, which is why Good Samaritan laws have been created to help protect volunteer responders from liability when using an AED. Everyone thinks about the risks associated with using an AED, but there are risks you should be aware of related to owning an AED as well. Here are just a few of those risks.
Ownership Risks for AEDs
It's true that Good Samaritan laws were designed to protect the person who is administering emergency care. However, there are also many laws and regulations surrounding AED ownership which may seem tricky to navigate but are designed to protect both the owners and users as well as the public. It is true that some AED owners have had bad experiences, but this is often due to lack of care and maintenance, or inadequate training in AED management.
Fortunately, these risks can be mitigated to provide responsibly managed life-saving care at your facility.
Environmental Effects on AEDs
Beyond standard maintenance, your AED device may be at risk from extreme heat or cold. A typical AED can continue to work in standby and operating temperatures between 32F and 122F (0C - 50C). That said, temperatures above 110F may begin to cause issues. The electrode pads may also lose their effectiveness by drying out in extreme conditions. These temperatures can be reached if the device is left in direct sun or a hot vehicle.
Extreme cold can also cause malfunctions or reduced lifespan. Do not let your AED freeze. If it does freeze, it may take a couple of days to thaw and resume functioning. Bring portable devices in from vehicles overnight when the temperatures drop below freezing.
Unexpected AED Locations
When considering placement and care of your AEDs, there are many facilities that should have an AED that you may not have considered. Swimming pools are areas of high cardio exercise and a level of risk due to the environment. Just because there is water around, does not mean that an AED can't be used on the sidelines.
Neighborhood locations are also areas of unexpected risk that could benefit from emergent care options, as many accidents happen near where we work, play and live. Preschools are another example of identified risk of cardiac incidents. While the focus is so often on the young children, people tend to forget the increased presence of older caregivers at drop off and pick up points who may be at risk. In addition to being a good idea, your state may actually require an AED at these locations. Check your local laws.
AED Maintenance Concerns
AEDs require regular maintenance to function properly. This means your AED supplies must be regularly checked and replaced, as well as the unit being tested. Lack of maintenance could lead to a serious malfunction, which would eliminate the usefulness of the device. You can manage your AED with dedicated software and mobile apps to ensure it is in proper working order.
AED Use Requires Trained Volunteers
While not difficult to use, AEDs do require training for anyone who might use them. The instructions provided by the AED itself are meant as guidance, not as a substitute for quality training. External organizations can help support your training need with onsite, in-person training, and supplement this knowledge with online training assistance. Having the right number of trained employees will greatly reduce your AED ownership risk. Some states even require that AEDs only be used by properly trained persons.
PlusTrac™ is dedicated to helping AED owners and users be proficient and legally protected in their use. To learn more about how to gain the benefit of AED ownership and mitigate risk, download our free eBook, Reducing Risk With a Managed AED Program.