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According to the American Heart Association, there were more than 350,000 out-of-hospital or sudden cardiac arrests in 2016, and the rates of survival in those incidences were less than 12 percent. That is fewer than 42,000 survivors out of 350,000. Will one of these instances affect one of your coworkers, employees, or customers?

The fact is, we don’t know. Sudden cardiac arrest can strike anyone, at any time. The only thing we do know is that the use of an automated external defibrillator, or AED, within the first five to seven minutes increases the rate of survival to upwards of 50 percent. For every minute that passes without treatment, a victim’s chance of survival decreases by seven to 10 percent. However, when used immediately, an AED can save a life.

An AED is a portable device that checks the heart rhythm and identifies if the heart needs to be sent an electric shock. This stops the heart and gives it a chance to regroup and beat normally again. An AED will NOT administer a shock if the heart’s rhythm does not need one. An AED is also equipped with visual and/or audio prompts that tell the administrator the steps to save a life.

The key to saving someone’s life in the face of a sudden cardiac arrest is seeing the signs and performing CPR until and after an AED can be used.

The American Heart Association recommends the following steps to save someone’s life:

Step One: Identify

Check responsiveness.

  • No response to tapping on shoulders.
  • Does nothing when you ask if they are okay.

No normal breathing.

  • Victim is not breathing or is only gasping.

Step Two: Act Fast

Yell for help.

  • Tell someone to call 9-1-1 or your emergency response number, and get an AED (if one is available). 
  • If you are alone with an adult who has these signs of cardiac arrest, call 9-1-1 and get an AED (if one is available). 

Check breathing.

  • If the person is not breathing or is only gasping, give CPR

Give CPR: Push hard and fast.

  • Push down at least 2 inches at a rate of 100 to 120 pushes a minute in the center of the chest, allowing the chest to come back up to its normal position after each push.
  • Use an AED as soon as it arrives by turning it on and following the prompt.
  • Keep pushing until the person starts to breathe or move or someone with more advanced training takes over.

To increase the odds of having a successful AED treatment, an AED program should be implemented within your business. Implementing an AED program does not and should not take the place of calling 9-1-1 in the event of an emergency. However, having an effective AED program has several components and increases the survival rate of the victim. This plan includes an emergency response defibrillation plan that covers:

  • Documentation procedures
  • Identifying employers who will be responders
  • AED training for those employees
  • Location of AEDs within your facility
  • Clearly defined program coordination and quality assurance
  • Knowledge of state and federal AED guidelines
  • Processes and procedures to ensure AEDs and supplies are in working order

Is Having an AED Program Worth the Investment?

Absolutely. Having an AED on site and a program to go along with it shows your employees and clients/customers that your company genuinely cares for their well-being.

Several brands of AEDs are on the market. All have similar characteristics to assist those properly trained in the use of the device, even those who rarely use them. Most AEDs cost less than $2,000 and all are classified by the FDA as “restricted medical devices,” meaning a prescription from a physician is required to obtain and use the device in the state in which it’s located. This prescription is often available from the AED provider.

Medical Oversight

Federal regulations also require what is called “medical oversight” with an AED program. Medical oversight means your program needs a physician to oversee its planning, implementation, policy establishment, training, and quality control. The physician acts as an advisor for your company’s AED program.

State requirements vary, with some requiring medical control for any AED program and others requiring only a signed prescription. However, the American Heart Association recommends a physician be involved with any AED program.

Liability and Legal Issues Regarding AEDs

Risk and liability are valid concerns for your business. You may be concerned that legal action could be brought against you should a responder cause additional harm to the victim because of the use of an AED.

The federal Cardiac Arrest Survival Act of 2000 extended Good Samaritan protection to AED owners and users in states that did not have their own AED Good Samaritan protection. All states now have Good Samaritan laws that protect AED users and owners. Good Samaritan laws ensure people are protected from legal liability should they harm someone they are trying to help. All employee responders must be aware of your state’s Good Samaritan law to eliminate any hesitation for them to assist victims in need.

Every state has also passed legislation and/or regulations requiring places open to the public to have AEDs available. Click here to check your state’s AED legislation summaries and requirements, including Good Samaritan laws. We strongly urge you to consult with your legal counsel and broker or insurance provider and to consider obtaining the appropriate number of AEDs for the safety of your employees and clients/customers.




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