Being able to help when someone loses consciousness due to cardiac arrest is priceless. Those initial seconds after someone drops to the floor are of grave importance, and how someone reacts can save a life.
In addition to high-quality CPR, an AED, an automated external defibrillator, is an effective way of restoring a normal heartbeat in a cardiac arrest victim. These life-saving machines are designed to keep a person’s heartbeat at a regular pace until further medical assistance.
The fact that more and more people are suffering from out-of-hospital SCA makes the importance of AEDs that much more evident. If public facilities like schools, gyms, workspaces, and so on had AEDs on site, the odds of survival of an SCA victim would be higher than average.
On that note, let’s have a closer look at the importance of an AED and why should every public space in the U.S. have one. In addition, we’ll elaborate on the benefits of having an AED on hand, as well as find out how different states in the U.S. delegate AED use in public spaces.
What is an AED?
An automated external defibrillator is a tool medical professionals, and civilians use in cases of cardiac arrest. It is designed with a built-in computer that analyzes a victim’s heartbeat via attached adhesive electrodes, estimating whether the heart should be defibrillated.
In other words, the user will be guided to defibrillate the victim by pressing the shocking button on the machine. The delivered shock will instantaneously jolt the heart, allowing it to resume a normal rhythm. Some AED devices come with a built-in metronome or auditory guidance that can also aid users with counting the compression rate.
Why Is Having an AED on Site So Important?
Before anything else, automated external defibrillators are the go-to emergency response in the event of a sudden cardiac arrest. Using an AED in the first seconds after an SCA occurs significantly improves the survival rates of the victim.
In addition, public-access AEDs are the reason people who suffer sudden cardiac arrest are maintained alive until medical professionals arrive. Imagine someone collapsing in a crowded metro station on a typical Monday morning with swarms of people rushing to get to work. With a public-access AED on site, someone can grab the machine and defibrate the victim’s heart to restore the heart rhythm.
Some of the most common benefits of AEDs include the following examples:
- Boosted survival rate
- Hindering further heart complications
- Minimizing chances for brain damage
- Treatment is safe and efficient
- Minimized risk of malpractice
- The device is easy to use by any group age of any skill level
- It can be used by any professional with minimal defibrillation knowledge;
- AED restores a heart’s normal rhythm
For the sake of comparison, let’s take the workplace as one of the places sudden cardiac arrests happen more than at any other place in out-of-hospital conditions. According to OSHA, more than 10,000 SCAs in the U.S. happen in the workplace.
The Advantages of Having an AED on Site
Having an AED at hand is paramount and should not be an option. We have listed more of the advantages of AED placement, and they include the following:
- Onsite AEDs are super time-efficient.
- Public-access AEDs are the best option to keep a person alive and ensure their safety until EMS arrives.
- When an AED is at hand, a person operating it can deliver life-saving shocks to the heart that would probably cease to function otherwise.
- During VF (ventricular fibrillation, a condition occurring during cardiac arrest), a victim’s heart rhythm can only be restored with electrical shocks.
- An AED is a mobile, lightweight, and compact device that is safe and easy to operate, even by children.
- An AED prevents accidental shocks.
- There is a proven track record of positive outcomes with the help of AED
- AED placement in public places is the difference between life and death in severe medical conditions.
How Do States in the U.S. Regulate the Placement of AEDs?
Today, more and more state officials have learned the life-saving benefits of AEDs, and luckily, the number of states making AEDs mandatory in public spaces like schools is increasing.
Thanks to the passing of 42 U.S. Code § 238q, the United States of America has made it obligatory for public places to have an AED available at all times. Other than schools, other public spaces like government buildings, clinics, gyms, and so on are mandated to make AEDs readily available on-site.
20 of the states in the U.S., including Montana and the District of Columbia, have made it obligatory for schools to place an AED in plain sight at all times., especially schools that offer sports programs.
For instance, Ohio and North Carolina are yet to make it mandatory for schools to have an AED on-site, as have not Kansas and Arizona. On the other hand, states like Texas, Florida, and New York have passed federal laws that mandate schools to place AEDs on-site.
Other than schools, some of the other public places where AEDs should be available include airports, metros, dental offices, pools, assisted living establishments, nursing homes, pharmacies, daycare facilities, theaters, and so on.
As we can see, different states handle the issue of AED placement differently. We can only hope more and more state officials grasp the importance of having public-access AEDs in more places.
Having a lot of question marks around your head when talking about AEDs and CPR is totally normal, and in fact, the more you ask, the more you know. Let’s go through some of the most commonly asked questions about AEDs.
Can I use an AED on a child?
Yes, AEDs are perfectly safe to use on children younger than 8 years old or infants, even. A combination of CPR and AED in an SCA victim that happens to be a child is the best emergency medical response you can provide.
Aren’t AEDs very expensive?
In general, a basic-model AED can cost as little as $800, whereas more advanced AEDs intended for professional use can cost up to $2,000. Even though the initial cost is big, investing in an AED for your home or public space is reasonable.
Are AEDs covered by insurance?
Traditionally, insurance agencies won’t cover AEDs, if the person is diagnosed with a medical condition that could lead to a cardiac arrest. Medicaid and Medicare also need proof of diagnosis performed by a physician and in person.
Key Takeaway: The Benefits of Having an AED on Hand
If it weren’t for the automated external defibrillators, the world would lose much more of its population to sudden cardiac arrests. Today more than ever, having the option to use an AED fast when the occasion arises is utterly beneficial.
Using an AED on a cardiac arrest victim within the first couple of minutes is crucial. It can elevate the survival rate, analyze a victim’s heartbeat and restore it to normal, and prevent brain damage or other cardiac complications.
Having AEDs in public places should be a no-brainer, but we have a long way to go until these life-saving machines are available to the general public in open public spaces.