Whether you are required to have an AED, or make the voluntary decision to have one, once you have an AED, it is important to maintain your AED and ensure compliance with any federal, state or local ordinances. These requirements vary from state to state. At minimum, the federal government and each individual state require that you purchase an FDA Approved AED and that you follow the manufacturer’s recommendations. These recommendations are specific to each make and model and typically include routine inspections and replacement of pads (electrodes) and batteries.
Maintaining your AED:
Most AEDs do an internal self-check on a regular basis and the inspections ensure no issues are found during the internal checks and that pads and batteries are not expired. These self-checks vary, with some AEDs checking the presence of pads and batteries and others going so far as to even test the functionality of the pads. It is recommended to keep written logs that you are following these recommendations so you can document compliance.
AED pads usually have an expiration date on the packaging. It is important to replace them prior to the expiration date. Once the expiration date has passed, you are at risk for the electrodes to dry out and then they will not work when needed. Similarly, there is nothing worse than being in a situation where an AED is needed and finding out the battery is dead. Most electrodes are on a 2-year replacement cycle with batteries being on a 4-year replacement cycle. Some AEDs have high-capacity batteries that can last up to 7 years. Because these timeframes vary and are spread out, it is important to have a tracking system in place to stay on top of the expiration dates and be able to plan for and forecast needed replacement parts to replace the products before they expire. Supply chain challenges can make it difficult to secure products when needed which is why it is important to be aware of and plan for replacements in advance. The process of replacing your pads or battery is always simple, with a click and plug type toggle, similar to many other plugs and/or batteries that you have used before. Generally, pads can be disposed of in normal waste while batteries should be recycled at an approved facility Recycling can be done through local municipalities or anywhere that offers recycling of computer equipment. To learn more about recycling your AED battery, please visit here: https://www.aed.us/resources/battery-recycling
Another item that should be stored with the AED is a rescue or CPR Kit which is a small, zippered pouch that typically includes a face mask, scissors, razor, gloves, and towelette or absorbent wipe. This too should be part of the inspection process as many face masks have printed expiration date and if not replaced, the plastic the mask is made with may degrade, develop a sticky feel and stop working as intended. These kits are often overlooked but are inexpensive to replace and an important part of maintaining your AED properly.
While the Good Samaritan Act generally covers the user of an AED whether they are trained or untrained, CPR/AED training is a requirement in some states and even if it’s not required, CPR and AED training are highly recommended. This should be done through a certified entity such as The American Heart Association, American Red Cross, or National Safety Council. This training is a certification that needs to be renewed every 2 years. The more people are trained, the more confident they will be during a rescue situation which will increase the odds of a successful save. CPR/AED is the basic training needed, however, many choose to include First Aid Training and Bloodborne Pathogen Training as well. Learn more about our nationally-recognized training, including American Heart and American Red Cross, here: https://www.aed.us/resources/training-courses
Medical Direction and Physician Oversight:
Some states also require that you have “medical direction”. This involves having a licensed doctor that oversees your AED program, ensuring you are in compliance with state and local laws, your equipment and training are up to date, and all required paperwork and associated filing is completed, if necessary. The paperwork can be different for each state but can include copies of an Emergency Response Plan, Notification of placement of your AED, and more.
Emergency Response Plan:
It is recommended to have an Emergency Response Plan that can be incorporated into internal policies and procedures. One helpful tip is to include AED Drills, with the intent to help staff to be more prepared to respond in the event an AED is used. The response plan should also detail what happens if and when you need to use your AED. Medical direction can take away any stress you may have after a cardiac event where the AED is used. Each AED has a way to download the data from the incident, including the record of the heart’s rhythm, delivery of shocks, and other vital information needed for a treating physician, via internal software. This data can be accessed via USB, infrared reader, data cable, or Wi-Fi, depending on the device. Once the data is downloaded, the treating physician will review the information, file any reports as required, and review the response to provide feedback if any retraining is needed. After the AED is used, the pads will need to be replaced. Another recommended best practice is to keep a spare set of electrodes on hand so there is no delay in having the equipment ready for use again after an event.
AED Equipment should be stored in a temperature-controlled environment as lithium batteries can crack in freezing temperatures and overheating the batteries can cause the batteries to deteriorate earlier than expected. In addition, many AEDs have safety measures where the device will go into a warning mode when the temperature is outside the normal range, similar to how a smartphone will give a temperature warning and turn off until it returns to normal range. There are a variety of cabinets available for proper storage and many come with strobes and alarms which not only help to alert bystanders that an emergency is occurring, but also act as a theft deterrent in public settings such as schools and gyms. It is recommended to always keep the AED in the same location, so it is readily accessible, and having signs to alert bystanders as to the location is recommended and, in some cases, required. If you’re at a facility that uses an AED for travel events, such as youth sports events and church outings, consider acquiring a second AED to use for these events. Getting to the AED and returning to the victim in a timely manner is most important as the stats show the likelihood of having a successful rescue is increased dramatically if CPR is started within 3. To achieve the ideal response time, AEDs should be placed no more than 90-seconds away, each way, so that a rescuer can be back to the scene with an AED to use in less than 180-seconds (3 minutes).
Lastly, all AEDS come with a warranty. Once an AED passes its warranty period, it is important to look at a possible replacement AED. Technological advancements and American Heart Association (AHA) Guideline Updates are key factors for replacement considerations. The American Heart Association currently provides guidance related to CPR and AED protocol that is used in AED Software, and the AHA provides updates to those guidelines every 5 years. When these updates are made, the AED Manufacturers are required to develop software upgrades as indicated. These upgrades need to be performed on the AED to ensure it is up to date and ready to perform if needed. Additionally, as manufacturers discontinue certain models, the replacement parts may become difficult to find and eventually may become obsolete. Keep in mind, trade-in options are often available for upgrades to newer AED models.
CPR Feedback is when an AED not only provides CPR instruction but will also correct the user actions to ensure quality CPR is performed. AEDs that offer CPR feedback will correct the user with audible and visual prompts to push faster, push slower, push harder, push softer, and to allow the chest to recoil. Currently, only ZOLL, Cardiac Science, and HeartSine models offer versions of CPR Feedback.
Remote Monitoring Services is a new technology that allows for inspections to be completed with notifications/alerts pushed to the person assigned to do the checks. Some AEDs offer built-in remote monitoring through the use of Wi-Fi connectivity. Some cabinet manufacturers have created remote monitoring solutions that utilize cellular data and work with a variety of AED makes and models. Remote monitoring provides your AED with 24/7 oversight and can even go so far as to send a text alert when your AED is moved, or cabinet is opened. Learn more about remote monitoring here.
Program Management is an all-in-one solution to track, maintain and ensure readiness for all of the AEDs in your deployment. Program management also helps track who is trained in your organization, who needs training, and compliance with federal, state, and local regulations. For larger organizations with multiple locations in different states, it is helpful to have program management to help with managing your AED program to ensure all recommendations are being adhered to. Learn more about AED Program Management by visiting our website.
Last updated February 8th, 2022