Q&A - AEDs

March 1, 2005
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QUESTION:

Who should be authorized to use AEDs in the workplace, and what is the minimum amount of training they will need?

ANSWERS:

The innovative idea behind Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) is that they are simple enough for anyone to use. Studies have shown sixth graders with just one minute of training have been able to operate these life-saving devices. In a perfect world, all employees would be trained in both CPR and AED use. If that is not feasible, we recommend a minimum of five employees be trained for every AED on site.

We also recommend that our customers receive training from an accredited organization such as the American Heart Association, the American Red Cross, the National Safety Council or the American Safety & Health Institute. These training sessions run from two to four hours and recertification occurs every one to two years.

Doug Hakala, Senior Manager, Commercial Markets, Medtronic Emergency Response Systems


When someone collapses from sudden cardiac arrest (SCA), rescuers don’t know if defibrillation or cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is appropriate until an AED is attached and the victim’s heart is analyzed. About half of all unresponsive victims initially require defibrillation. For remaining victims, who may have non-shockable heart rhythms, the critical action is CPR.

For this reason, it is important to have a core safety team trained in AED usage and CPR. Also, all employees should be aware of this core team and be trained themselves. The American Heart Association and the American Red Cross offer four-hour training classes to prepare people for an SCA rescue.

Hank Constantine, Marketing Director, Public Access, ZOLL Medical Corp.


The American Heart Association recommends that comprehensive plans be developed for responding to cardiac emergencies. Good plans include:

  • Training designated rescuers in CPR/the use of AEDs at least once every two years and conducting frequent drills.
  • Designating rescuers who will be onsite and quickly accessed, such as security guards or facilities staff.
  • A system for activating a response by the designated rescuers.
  • Locating AEDs where they can be retrieved within 11/2-2 minutes.
  • Integration with local emergency medical services (EMS) to ensure rapid response.
  • Adherence to AED manufacturer’s directions for use and maintenance.
  • Physician oversight of the program.

John Billi, MD, Chair of the American Heart Association’s Emergency Cardiovascular Care Committee


The key word here is “authorized.” For liability reasons, the only individuals who should be authorized to use an AED are those members of an organization’s Emergency Response Team (ERT) who have received CPR and AED training. The minimum amount of training required for members of an ERT is a four-hour CPR/AED class taught by a certified trainer, which should include training on the actual AED model deployed in the workplace.

Even though only “authorized” responders should use an AED, in a worst-case situation where none is present, and you see someone in sudden cardiac arrest, the most important thing is to take action: call 911 and retrieve the AED.

Dave Bingham, Director of AED & Emergency Services, Cintas First Aid & Safety

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