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AED Program Best Practices Guide

Use of this Guide

Developed and published by:

Richard A. Lazar
Readiness Systems
The nation’s leading AED program compliance expert.

© Readiness Systems, LLC – All rights reserved

This AED Program Best Practices Guide is protected by copyright. A link to this page and the PDF version of this Guide may be freely shared without alteration. However, the contents of this Guide may be used, referenced and reproduced only as specified, only with proper attribution and only with the express written consent of Readiness Systems.  Publishing, displaying, creating derivative works of or reproducing this Guide without the express written consent of Readiness Systems is prohibited.

For more information about this AED Program Best Practices Guide, please contact:

Readiness Systems, LLC

Notice to the Legal Community

The information provided in this AED Program Best Practices Guide is not intended to establish a legal standard of care and deviation from the concepts described in this Guide does not indicate or imply that an AED program is operating below a reasonable level of conduct.

Why this Guide was Created

Despite more than 30 years of effort, the sheer magnitude of sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) as a public health threat remains as challenging as ever. Nearly 400,000 people experience SCA outside of hospitals in the United States every year. Approximately 120,000 of these events — roughly 30 percent — happen in workplace and community settings outside of the home. Quickly delivering cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and defibrillation with an automated external defibrillator (AED) can save many lives. Yet, the survival rate for SCA — the third-leading cause of death in the U.S. — remains at a stubbornly low 6 percent, in part because there are too few AEDs and too few volunteer rescuers willing to help.

Only a small number of laws require the placement of AEDs resulting in a critical AED shortage. Commendably, and despite the absence of mandates, many organizations have voluntarily added these life-saving devices to their health and safety programs. Countless other organizations, however, are reluctant to buy AEDs due to perceived complexities surrounding the creation and management of AED programs and, as importantly, because of well-founded legal liability concerns.

This Guide tackles programmatic barriers by offering a complete and structured building-block approach to AED program setup and operations – essentially a “how-to” guide for AED program managers. It tackles the liability risk barrier by establishing a realistic administrative and operational framework based on common sense community expectations. Having written policies in place that thoughtfully embody these reasonable expectations helps organizations defend themselves in the event of a lawsuit. By taking the mystery out of AED program management and providing effective risk management strategies, the hope is to get more organizations to say “yes” to AEDs.

When it comes to getting people to help when faced with SCA events, current approaches are not working. Few SCA victims get bystander-performed CPR and fewer still are aided with bystander-used AEDs. Why? There is a widescale perception that only formally trained people with a valid course completion card can try CPR or retrieve and use AEDs. This perception severely limits the pool of potential rescuers who may be available to try to save a life.

This Guide offers strategies that empower AED programs to utilize anyone and everyone, trained and untrained alike, to help in SCA emergencies. The more people expressly permitted to respond to SCA emergencies, the more likely SCA victims will live.

Bottom line, the goals of this Guide are to get more AEDs out there and empower and encourage more people to help. The result – more SCA survivors.

Contact Readiness Systems for Custom-crafted AED Program Policies

Keep in mind this Guide gives AED programs the tools to develop policies and practices for each AED program building block. But because every AED program is unique, it is impractical to include the policies themselves. Your AED program policies and associated practices should be based on the needs and resources of your organization. Need help? Contact Readiness Systems for custom-crafted policies for your AED program.

About this Guide

This AED Program Best Practices Guide was developed to encourage and support the placement and use of AEDs in workplace and community settings. AEDs are medical devices designed to be put in publicly-accessible locations and used by untrained or minimally-trained volunteer bystanders to treat sudden cardiac arrest. Sudden cardiac arrest is a life-threatening heart condition that is 100 percent fatal if not treated quickly. Prompt cardiopulmonary resuscitation and rapidly used AEDs improve the chances of SCA survival.

Organizations craft programs around publicly placed AEDs. These programs exist to do two very important but rare things: Use volunteer bystanders to start CPR and get functioning AEDs to the people who need them. Responding to SCA is a logistics rather than a medical challenge since AEDs diagnose the heart’s condition and deliver defibrillation treatment.

An AED program consists of policies and practices that ready an organization for SCA emergencies, suggest what actions should be taken if SCA is encountered and help manage the legal risks that come with owning AEDs. Industry standards and AED laws guide what to include in an AED program’s policies and practices.

Industry Standards and AED Laws Explained

Industry standards: Industry standards reflect common sense community expectations that guide how AED programs should be set up, managed and operated. Organizations that develop and follow common sense policies and practices, tailored to their unique situations, accomplish four important things including: 1) Responsibly meeting industry standards; 2) being reasonably prepared for SCA emergencies; 3) lowering the risk of bad outcomes; and 4) improving their ability to defend themselves in court if they get sued

AED laws: AED laws vary widely by jurisdiction and generally do one or more of three things: 1) Tell organizations what they should do to administer and operate an AED program; 2) define what if any legal protections may be available to the organizations and people involved in AED programs (so-called Good Samaritan immunity); and 3) identify the types of organizations that must have AEDs. Fulfilling AED law requirements may help preserve Good Samaritan legal protections in some jurisdictions and may help a legal defense in the unlikely event of a lawsuit. Just meeting these legal obligations, however, will not help organizations responsibly prepare for or perform well during SCA events.

Well managed AED programs should sensibly follow industry standards and AED laws while considering their own unique circumstances, e.g., operating environment, resources and goals. Most AED programs, however, operate on an ad hoc basis which creates a risk of operational gaps that can lead to avoidable SCA death and hard-to-defend lawsuits.

This Guide helps organizations avoid these gaps by describing all AED program elements, or building blocks, and recommending best practices for meeting the requirements of each.

Download the AED Program Best Practices Guide PDF

The Fine Print

In this Guide, we have worked diligently to provide you with trusted, informed and comprehensive guidance about how to set up and operate an effective, compliant and risk managed AED program that best leverages your AED program resources. But every organization and AED program is different and we, like you, operate in a highly litigious environment. So, we are compelled to include the following “fine print” with this Guide.

Disclaimer of Liability.

Readiness Systems disclaims liability for any personal injury, property or other damages of any nature whatsoever, whether special, indirect, consequential or compensatory, directly or indirectly resulting from the publication, use of, or reliance on this Guide.

Not Legal Advice.

This Guide is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to be, does not constitute, and should not be relied upon as legal advice or legal services. Readiness Systems does not offer or provide legal advice or legal services.

Limited Services Warranties.

  • Readiness Systems makes no representations or warranties regarding the results to be achieved through implementation or operation of any AED program based on this Guide.
  • In publishing and making this Guide available, Readiness Systems is not undertaking to render professional or other services for or on behalf of any person or entity. Nor is Readiness Systems undertaking to perform any duty owed by any person or entity to someone else. Anyone using this Guide should rely on his or her own independent judgment or, as appropriate, seek the advice of a competent professional in determining the exercise of reasonable care in any given circumstances.

Laws and Regulations.

Users of this Guide should consult applicable federal, state and local laws and regulations. Readiness Systems does not, by the publication or distribution of this Guide, intend to urge action that is not in reasonable compliance with the intent and purpose of applicable laws, and this Guide may not be construed as doing so.

Not a Standard of Care:

The information provided in this Guide is not intended to establish a legal standard of care and deviation from the concepts described in this Guide does not indicate or imply that an AED program is operating below a reasonable level of conduct.

Download the AED Program Best Practices Guide PDF

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