Automated external defibrillators (AEDs) save lives during sudden cardiac arrests (SCAs), and nearly 60% of SCAs are witnessed and could provide assistance if an AED was nearby. It is well known that most hospitals have several AED devices placed strategically throughout their facility with a well-managed risk-response team to manage the upkeep of the AED and correctly follow procedures should the device be used for life-saving intervention.
Hospitals, however, are not the location where AEDs have the most impact. This is because 85% of SCAs begin outside of healthcare settings. AEDs are now in schools, office buildings, gyms, shopping centers, golf courses, and aquatic centers—locations where it is less likely an AED-trained person is on-site and ready to use the AED if an event occurred. Unfortunately, it is often not evidence-based information that guides where the AED unit is placed at these sites; therefore, in the event of an emergency, it can be difficult to locate the device. Ideally, AEDs need to be placed strategically to ensure the greatest number of people can see, access, and use the device should an event occur.
There are registries, of course, and 911 agencies would have access to these and point you in the right direction should you require it. Correct? Sadly, no. Registration requirements vary between localities and at present, there is no standardized registry. There can be costs involved and navigating the systems requires a lot of time, effort, and trial and error—unless you find someone with experience.
AED Management companies are familiar with the ways an AED program fails rather than succeeds, and they can help the owner of the device avoid those traps. For example, many facilities have personnel who are designated to respond should the AED be needed, but these individuals are not always available when an SCA happens. Registering your AED can help 911 operators instruct callers on locating and using the devices to deliver aid to the victim in just a few minutes, critical minutes, before first responders arrive. Research indicates that the drop-to-shock time should be three minutes; each additional minute reduces survival chances by 10%. Unfortunately, many facilities with AEDs don't have a team overseeing the registration process and ensuring the AED's location is known by the local EMS team.
Sadly, many facility managers and AED owners are not aware of the registration process for AEDs to help EMS find AED devices.--the Red Cross reports that the average response time for 911 calls is 8-12 minutes--up to three times the recommended time to shock.
Lack of awareness isn’t the only obstacle to registering AEDs. Many of the individuals responsible for the devices don’t know how to do so, and the instructions for registering the device can vary from manufacturer to manufacturer or from state to state. Complicating the matter further, each manufacturer’s separate registry, and each state’s may not be available to all 911 operators and may capture different information. Finally, of course, registration of an AED can be an added extra expense, separate from the cost of the device itself.
AEDs need services, routine tests, reporting after an incident, registration, medical authorization, and more. The benefit of using an AED management program, like PlusTrac™, is multifaceted—time is saved by management, equipment is serviced and ready should an SCA occur.
The problems mentioned are ones with a solution, the National AED Registry. Registering your AEDs with this free registry can help save lives in your community by letting participating emergency response agencies know where your AEDs are located so they can be found and used quickly when needed.