According to the American Heart Association, around 360,000 Americans suffer from out-of-hospital cardiac arrests each year. On average, 90% of out-of-hospital cardiac arrests are fatal. Using an automated external defibrillator doubles the likelihood of surviving cardiac arrest. Developing an effective AED Management Program will help you save lives in your workplace.
Here are 10 common AED questions that are essential for the wellbeing of your staff.
What is an AED and What Does it Do?
AED is the acronym for Automated External Defibrillator. This is a medical device that is designed to send a measured electrical shock to the heart causing it to temporarily stop beating. It is employed most often in the case of sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) due to ventricular fibrillation.
Fibrillation refers to a cardiac arrhythmia that causes the heart muscle to quiver instead of contracting in an organized manner. Ventricular fibrillation means that the parts of the heart that are quivering are the lower chambers, the ventricles, that pump blood to the head and the rest of the body. The electrical shock delivered by the AED causes the heart to stop quivering so it can resume coordinated contractions and again pump the blood effectively to the head and the rest of the body.
It is a class III medical device per the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and requires a physician prescription and medical oversight for its purchase and use.
Is an AED really needed in a workplace?
An AED is only needed in a workplace if people are there. This is a smart-alecky way of saying, “Yes, AEDs are needed in the workplace”. While the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) does not require AEDs in the workplace, they do strongly support it and reference this position statement by the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM). Of particular importance is the section on GUIDANCE FOR THE USE OF AEDS IN OCCUPATIONAL SETTINGS.
Do I need special training to operate an AED?
One of the great things about an AED is that it is automated so that practically anyone can simply follow the programmed steps to successfully operate the device. That being said, it is much better - and provides the user with more confidence to use it more quickly - if proper training has been provided. Also, while all 50 states have Good Samaritan laws designed to protect persons providing aid to other persons in distress, they all vary to some degree. This is particularly true for training requirements to use AEDs. Click here for information about your state.
How many AEDs should we have in our work area?
This, of course, largely depends on the size and layout of your facility. Multiple floors will likely necessitate more AEDs than a single floor, while stretched out areas with multiple corridors may also require more. The rule of thumb is that the “Drop to Shock” time frame should be no more than three (3) minutes. This means that you should have AEDs located within 90 seconds of the furthest reach in order for a coworker to witness a sudden cardiac arrest, get to the AED to retrieve it and return to the coworker victim. The reasoning behind this is that for every minute that elapses after the SCA the likelihood of a successful outcome is reduced by ten percent. So, by ten minutes elapsed time from onset to AED application the probability of the victim dying from the SCA is ninety percent.
Where should our AEDs be located?
Even though AEDs may be costly, they do no one any good if they are kept behind locked doors only available to specific persons within given time frames. SCAs are not respecters of time of day or who has a key. This is why your AEDs need to be in an open area, clearly visible and accessible to everyone, just like your fire extinguishers.
Who needs to know where our AEDs are located?
In a word - “Everyone”. That includes all employed staff, contracted staff and visitors. It also includes your local emergency medical service (EMS) agency and law enforcement personnel.
How can we be sure that our AEDs are ready to be used?
Like any other mechanical device, AEDs are subject to potential malfunction if not properly maintained. After a period of time the electrodes may dry out and/or the batteries may lose power. So all AEDs need to be on a routine periodic maintenance program.
How often should our AEDs be checked?
This will depend on the particular type or brand of AED. Different manufacturers have different recommended time frames. The simple answer is to go by the manufacturer's recommendations.
What AED training resources are available?
It is reasonable to assume that a trained individual will be more likely to utilize an AED than someone who is not confident in their ability to do so. There are any number of training options from the American Heart Association, local EMS agencies, AED manufacturers and others. The type of training varies from standard in-person CPR/AED training, to virtual off-site training as well as hybrid training programs.
What should I do once an AED has been used?
This is a big question. There are many things that need to be done once the AED has been used. Hopefully, the victim’s coworkers were able to get to the AED in a timely fashion, were confident and skilled enough to effectively apply the pads and initiate CPR/AED resuscitation so that the victim was subsequently stabilized by the local EMS personnel and transported alive to an area hospital. If such was the case the following still needs to be done:
- Send the AED’s ECG tracing to the hospital with the victim
- Contact the victim’s family members
- Replace the electrodes and possibly the batteries
- Conduct a post-event follow-up with the medical sponsor to review the processes
If the resuscitation effort was unsuccessful, and even if it was successful, post-event counseling for the employees involved will be appropriate as well.
One more thing you should know: When it comes to managing your AED program, Rescue Ready® Services has the solution including:
PlusTrac™ - AED Program Management service
PlusCare™ - AED Service & Maintenance
PlusLearning™ - AED Training programs including traditional in-person training, virtual on-line training, and blended learning programs