Is outsourcing your AED program the answer?
Typically, an AED Program Manager must manage, maintain and track a number of AEDs. This could be fewer than ten AEDs. More complex situations could involve hundreds of AEDs. Many organizations don’t have the resources to give someone AED program management even as a secondary responsibility. Only in the largest operations will AED program management qualify as a full-time position.
Therein lies the rub. How well your AEDs are managed can make all the difference when it comes to being prepared to save lives and stay in compliance with your local Good Samaritan laws and regulations.
Suppose you give the task of managing all your AEDs, as a responsibility to, say, an assistant HR manager. How much time will this person have to dedicate to this important task relative to other primary ones? Will he or she know what regulations need to be complied with for all your facilities, at all your sites?
How will this manager track the operating status of every AED on a regular basis? Track the expiration of consumables, like pads and batteries? Arrange for the training of your responders? And what if the regulations you are trying to comply with change? Will your HR department know about that? Finally, what if you have an emergency event, and now you would like to document what occurred and get your AED back into operation as soon as possible?
Managing all of this, especially with a number of AEDs spread across multiple facilities—or even multiple states—can be a real headache. Especially if the manager in question already has a job unrelated to the AED program.
In the last 15 years, a number of companies have become providers of “AED Program Management,” which has made outsourcing most of your management responsibilities quite easy. The more sophisticated providers have developed Internet software with which they design, develop, and maintain a database that accurately models your entire program across any size organization.
Given your own situation, should you outsource your AED program to one of these service providers? If so, which one?
Keeping it in-house
Let’s start with some reasons why you might not want to:
• Loss of control. When you sign on with an AED program provider, you agree to play by their rules. For example, if a status inspection is not done, or if a battery is not replaced on time, their system will notify the inspector and eventually everyone else in the management chain to let them know you’re out of compliance. And there will be a record of the failure. This can be unnerving and a bit too rigid for some.
- Added cost. Having an AED is much like owning an automobile. It will cost money to keep it maintained. Even though no one is using it, you will need somehow to budget for the maintenance of its readiness and compliance. Buying a management program shows up as dollars and cents right away, and isn’t embedded in other budgets. You can somewhat limit costs with a long-term commitment, typically five years.
- Risk of making the wrong choice. As with most purchases, you will have to shop carefully. What if the program you select sounds great and the price is right, but after six months you realize you’re not getting the needed value?
Investing in a management system
Okay, so let’s assume you’re not a control freak, you don’t mind spending some money, and you trust yourself to shop carefully. Here are some reasons you may want to outsource your program:
- No design problem. Suppose you do it yourself in-house. How do you design an AED management program? Where do you start? For example, every state—and even some municipalities—have laws and regulations that govern what must be done to ensure your potential rescuers are legally qualified “Good Samaritans.” You are probably not familiar with, and certain of, all the laws and regulations for every facility in your organization. The best providers will know, and keep up with all of them, and guide you through maintaining compliance.
- Implementation guidance. The best providers will be online 24/7 with customer service during business hours, complete with a consultant on the phone and online chat capability. The best providers combine powerful online software with excellent people support.
- Maintenance that never sleeps. The best online AED management systems will be available when needed and never stop watching the clock. The problem with maintaining unused AEDs is that you can forget about them. Inspecting AEDs is easy because they all run a self-test on a regular basis and report the pass/fail result on a status indicator. The best systems will let you have someone check the status indicator and log it with a few key strokes in your database. Finally, if and when anything does go wrong in your program, your management system should let you know right away via email—to all the relevant parties—what action is needed.
- Post-event support. Any use of an AED in an emergency event, no matter how rare, presents a program manager with a new and different challenge. How to record what happened and get the AED back in service. Let your managers know that when an event occurs, the system provider must be contacted immediately. When alerted, the provider will take immediate action to send a replacement AED overnight to the facility where the event occurred.
- Legal support. Good Samaritan laws provide legal protection to lay rescuers who attempt to use an AED. But nothing prevents any person or organization from getting sued. Having an outsourced AED management program can go a long way toward minimizing lawsuit potential because you have a complete record of everything that ever happened to the AED and the facility and people involved.
To outsource or not?
If your organization can do everything required to maintain your readiness and compliance, then do it yourself. But if your situation is complex or ambiguous, outsourcing to an online AED program management system makes a lot of sense.