It was a day like most others for George Hickman, an employee of the Honeywell FM&T facility in Kansas City, Missouri. Much the same as he had done for several years, George arrived early for his shift on that warm, July day four years ago and was seated at his workstation preparing for the day ahead. Suddenly everything changed as the long-time Honeywell employee suffered cardiac arrest.
Two coworkers rushed to his aid and began performing CPR while another called for help. Within a few minutes, Honeywell security personnel arrived with an automated external defibrillator or AED. George received a single shock from the device, fortunately regained a pulse and resumed breathing. Soon, paramedics arrived to assume George’s care before transporting him to a hospital where he underwent emergency surgery. George is now back to work.
Importance of Early Defibrillation
February is the month for red. Not only do we celebrate Valentine’s Day, but February is American Heart Month as well. According to the American Heart Association, more than a quarter of a million Americans die each year from sudden cardiac arrest. In the event of cardiac arrest, every second counts. For every minute that passes without treatment, a victim’s chance of survival decreases by 7 to 10 percent.
The key to survival, says the American Heart Association, is timely initiation of the five-ring “chain of survival,” including CPR and the use of an AED. The “rings” of the chain include:
- Immediate recognition of cardiac arrest
- Early CPR with emphasis on chest compressions
- Rapid defibrillation
- Effective advanced life support
- Integrated post-cardiac arrest care
Rapid defibrillation means immediate use of a properly functioning AED. When defibrillation is provided within five to seven minutes, the rate of surviving cardiac arrest is nearly 50 percent. According to OSHA, up to 120 lives would be saved every year if AEDs helped revive even 40 percent of cardiac event victims.
Is having an AED program worth the Investment?
Let’s answer that question with a question: What’s the price of a human life? It should seem that being able to save the life of an employee or customer of your company would be worth the cost of implementing an AED program. Having AEDs on site shows your organization genuinely cares for the well-being of all who frequent your facility.
An AED is a lightweight, portable, battery-operated device that is used to monitor a cardiac victim’s heart rhythm and seek an abnormal signal. When used properly, the highly user-friendly device provides instructions to the responder with voice prompts and an information display. The AED will shock a victim ONLY if the person’s heart gives off an abnormal rhythm and ONLY after the responder presses a button.
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 $4,000 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 its located. This prescription is often available from the AED provider.
Implementing a Program
Implementing an AED program does not and should not take the place of calling 911 in the event of an emergency. AED use is one step in the chain of survival. An effective AED program has several components, including 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
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 organization’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.
FDA requirements allow the use of an AED only by persons trained and certified according to state and local laws. The following topics are required to be covered during AED training:
- Proper CPR administration
- AED training
- Bloodborne pathogens
- Basic first aid
Recordkeeping of employee AED training is required as well. Certifications in CPR, AED, first aid and bloodborne pathogens expire every 1-3 years. Timely responder training and documentation will ensure that your employees’ skills are up to date and that they’re able to respond to an emergency.
Liability and Legal Issues Regarding AEDs
Risk and liability are valid concerns your business may have should a customer, guest or employee suffer a cardiac event on your property. You may be concerned that legal action could be brought against your business 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. Good Samaritan laws ensure people are protected from legal liability should they harm someone they’re trying to help. All states have Good Samaritan laws that protect AED users and owners. 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 on 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 members, guests and employees.
Article by David A. Harnois – Affinity Club Underwriters
David A. Harnois, CCM is a proud employee owner of Affinity Club Underwriters, specializing in commercial and group program business. David provides insurance solutions for hundreds of clubs throughout the world. He may be reached at (973) 984-1000 x111 or at www.affinityclubs.com.
Founded in 2007, Affinity Club Underwriters is a wholesale program insurance provider specializing in the club, golf and hospitality sector. They offer claims management services; operations and coverage audits; policy and information storage and archaeology; RFP preparation; market analysis; and help in developing specific loss control programs. Affinity is the exclusive provider of the Affinity Club Program for private and semi-private golf and country club venues. Affinity is the only insurance program administrator led by golf industry experts.