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AED Programs: An Underutilized Life Saver



According to the American Heart Association, 95 percent of cardiac arrest victims die before reaching the hospital. A victims’ chances of survival are reduced by 7 to 10 percent with every minute that passes without CPR. In contrast, where defibrillation is provided within 5 to 7 minutes, the survival rate from sudden cardiac arrest is as high as 30-45 percent. With an AED program, there is a better chance of having a defibrillator near with people trained to use them in case of an emergency. An AED program includes proper automated external defibrillator placement, training for employees, raising awareness, and maintaining AEDs.

AED Placement

An AED is effectively used when a shock can be administered within three to five minutes of cardiac arrest. Keep this guideline in mind when determining where to place defibrillators on location. They should be in public places such as schools, sports arenas, airports, and any other place that will have a large number of people present. Put your automatic external defibrillator near high traffic visible areas including cafeterias, main entrances, on walls in main hallways, and near areas where sports will be played.

AED Training Plans

Employees and others who may be using AEDs should be trained in both CPR and in using an automatic external defibrillator. Although AEDs are designed for use by those with no medical background, training increases confidence and comfort when using an AED is necessary. There are CRP and AED training courses available from the American Red Cross both online and in a classroom setting. For more information on AED and CPR training, call your nearest American Heart Association office, call 1-888-CPRLINE, or visit Make sure employees are trained with the specific AED they will be working with at their location.

Raise Awareness & Maintain Program

Once the AED program is in place, educate your employees, and promote training opportunities.  Use signs and posters to make AEDs visible and to advertise training courses that are available.  Assign someone the task of keeping up with the program to ensure that AEDs are maintained and that new employees are aware of AED training courses. Properly maintaining your AED equipment and keeping up on training will ensure you have an effective program in place.

An AED is a portable medical device that delivers an electric shock to victims of cardiac arrest, quickly restoring regular heart rhythm. Automatic external defibrillators are designed with first responders in mind.  They are simple, easy-to-use, and should be easily accessible to be found quickly since a victim’s chance of survival drops by 7 to 10 percent per minute.

AEDs have a built-in computer that checks the victim’s heart rhythm. If defibrillation is needed, voice commands tell the rescuer to press the shock button to administer a shock to the patient. The shock stuns the heart and gives the heard the chance to resume beating regularly.  To learn more about AEDs, creating an AED plan for your school or workplace, or to learn more about training opportunities, visit or speak to a doctor, nurse, or other healthcare professional.