3 Essential Questions When Considering An AED
Why would I consider an AED for my organization?
AEDs save lives. Every day in the United States, over 1,000 friends, co-workers, and loved-ones develop a life-threatening condition called Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA). When used within three minutes of SCA, an AED can produce survival rates of up to 74%. Sadly, due to a lack of readily accessible AEDs, the current survival rate is only 8% to 10%, leaving over 900 families each day wishing an AED-equipped bystander could have intervened.
Organizations provide an optimal environment for effective AED programs. The workplace is second only to the home when it comes to the most likely places to witness an SCA emergency. According to the Society for Human Resources Managers, “All work sites are potential candidates for AED programs to increase the chances of survival of those who suffer Sudden Cardiac Arrest.”1 With minimal consideration and planning, an organization can be in a constant state of readiness to provide the best response to an emergency that happens over 1,000 times a day.
Tip: Don’t think, “It will never happen to us.” Instead think, “Thank goodness it hasn’t happened yet!”
What are the legal implications of establishing an AED program?
Indifference invites risk. Because of the effectiveness of AEDs to treat SCA, the vast majority of cardiac arrest lawsuits result from either a failure to make an AED available to employees and/or patrons, or a failure to use an available AED. As of yet, no lawsuits have been filed in an incident where an AED program was used in a timely manner. Richard Lazar, an attorney at the forefront of AED law explains, “In general, businesses that implement AED programs appear to reduce the risk of liability for Sudden Cardiac Arrest lawsuits as compared to businesses who do not.”2
Compliance is the key. A compliant AED program addresses industry standards as well as federal and state AED laws. Industry standards tend to focus on the strategy, maintenance and use of an AED program, whereas AED laws generally address accountability issues such as EMS notification of AED placement, training requirements, program oversight...etc. Time after time, courts prove that the best way to reduce liability in the event of a cardiac arrest is with an AED program that complies with both the actions defined by industry standards and the accountability provided by AED laws.
Is an AED program expensive?
It depends. With entry-level units in the area of $1200, cost can sometimes be a limiter. There are also short and long-term expenses involved in establishing and maintaining an AED program. One study found that as many as one out of every five accessible AEDs would be ineffective during an emergency due to a simple lack of routine maintenance. A reason for this may be a misunderstanding regarding future costs on the purchaser’s part.
Plan beyond the initial purchase. Some organizations only consider the initial cost of an AED when choosing an appropriate device. Instead, organizations should take into account the lifespan of the consumables such as batteries and pads. It is wise to take into consideration that some manufacturers’ consumables have a longer service-life than others. A good practice is to calculate the total investment in a unit over a 10-year life expectancy. Other important costs, such as initial and refresher training for anticipated users should also be included in a program budget.
Tip: Where there is a will, there is a way. Even the smallest organizations have successfully deployed AED programs utilizing fundraising, grants, sponsorships and financing to reduce the financial impact of providing access to AEDs.
- Randy Boone