"Buying an AED is more than placing an order on the internet."

Creating and Maintaining a

Public Access Defibrillation Program

Our FREE 6 step video series will show you how.

Public Access Defibrillation Overview: The Essential Information

Public Access Defibrillation Site Assessment: AED Placement

Public Access Defibrillation Select: Choose the best AED

Public Access Defibrillation Schedule: AED Training

Public Access Defibrillation  Secure: Medical Oversight

Public Access Defibrillation Set-up: AED Maintainance

Public Access Defibrillation Start Tracking: AED Program Management

Select an AED

The second step of the Cardiac Life Public Access Defibrillation Program is Choose The Best AED.

There are 6 different manufacturers approved by the FDA that have AEDs on the market. Each one has different models and not all AEDs are created equal.

There are a variety of factors that you will want to take into consideration when you’re choosing an AED, or when looking at the AEDs you currently have. If you have AEDs that you’ve had for quite some time, they may be getting to the end of their life span. They may be getting old, or they may get to a point where they will no longer work. We offer trade-in programs that allow you to trade it in for a newer unit. All AEDs have different warranty periods, ranging anywhere from 5-10 years, so that is a key consideration you want to look at.

The most important aspect is the reliability of the AED. If you buy an AED, when you go to use it, you want to make sure that it’s going to work for you, right? Each one has different reliability factors. Each one shocks in a different manner. And when I speak about reliability, I also speak about the self-checking mechanisms that are in them.

AEDs have wonderful software in them that has the algorithm to determine whether a shock is needed. Also part of the internal software, is a mechanism that goes through and does a self-check. Some AEDs do nightly checks some do weekly checks, some do monthly checks. Some of those checks are checking for the presence of the electrodes and the batteries, which are both component parts that have expiration dates. You want to check on the self-checking mechanism within the AED and whether it’s looking for presence and functionality and how often those self-checks are being done.

We also want to look at the type of AED. When AEDs first became available for public access, they mimicked what was used in a hospital setting, which was a semi-automatic unit that required the user to push the button to deliver the shock. What they found over time, through repeated studies, is that sometimes the user experienced negative effects from having actually pushed the button to deliver the shock. There was more traumatic stress after the incidents. The manufacturers then developed automatic units. Fully automatic units are intended for public access that remove the user out of the scenario and allow the AED to make the determination of whether a shock is needed or not and deliver the shock. As I mentioned earlier, they will not deliver a shock if a shock is not needed and all AEDs give a countdown before the shock is delivered so that the rescuer can ensure that they’re not in harm’s way. 

Each of the different models has a voice prompt that guides the user through CPR, which also is very useful whether you’re certified or not. If you’re not using it on a day-to-day basis, you may forget the information and it’s nice to be walked through that.

You also want to think of the Americans with Disabilities Act and ADA compliance. Different models and manufacturers have different aspects that tend to that. Some have visual cues and some have auditory cues. Each one is slightly different. You want to look at the size of the AED, the weight of it and the portability of it, depending on how you intend to use it. The smallest AED on the market is 2lbs 4oz, really lightweight. Many of the AEDs come with accessories such as backpacks, and things of that nature, that can help you to carry it if you want to go backpacking across Europe and want to take your AED with you.

Also water, dust and impact resistance, if those are important features for you, each AED has different parameters in that regard. Ease of use in the maintenance of the AED and the ease of use when you go to use the AED in a rescue situation are going to be different based on brand. Also the ease of use in regards to the maintenance-what’s required for the ongoing maintenance to ensure that AED is in rescue ready condition when you need it.

Many people express concerns about liability and if they are liable. “I would rather not have an AED program because I don’t want to deal with the liability of it.” It definitely does put you in a liable position if you’re not maintaining it [the AED] once you purchase it. So maintenance is another aspect. How hard is it to maintain? Each one is different. Each one has slightly different requirements in regards to what can be done, what should be done and how often. Another service that is provided, if you want to have a completely hands off approach and not have to do any of it, or not have your EMTs be responsible for it, you can hire out for that service as well. Then you know and have peace of mind that everything is in proper working order at all times and that your AED is going to be in rescue ready condition. As you can see, there are a lot of factors that need to be taken into consideration when you’re choosing an AED. There are professionals available who can provide consultation and work with you directly to determine what’s going to work best for you and your organization. You really want to pick what’s most important to you and use that in your consideration when you’re choosing an AED.