Keep an AED handy in the workplace; the life you save may be your own!
An AED or Automated External Defibrillator is a portable electronic device used in emergencies involving a life threatening cardiac event. An AED is designed so that an 11-year-old can properly and effectively use it to apply electrical therapy to the heart to reestablish an effective rhythm, or in essence, stop a heart attack in progress and save a life.
The AED is very similar to the electrical paddles, used by medical professionals, on a patient’s chest, to restart the heart in medical emergency scenes presented in movies and TV shows. The AED is the same type of equipment, but it is designed to allow a lay person, with very basic training, to use it when Emergency Responders are not available. The equipment actually diagnoses the heart rhythm itself and applies a shock when needed. Audio directions are issued to the user, from the AED device, to give guidance on the proper operation of the device during such events.
According to the Occupational Safety & Health Administration, approximately 10,000 Cardiac Arrests occur in the workplace each year. However, there is only a 5-7% survival rate, due to the time it takes for emergency responders to reach the scene. Studies reflect that the use of AED’s increases the survival rate to 60%. Earlier this year, the CFO of one of our clients was working at his desk when he suffered a massive coronary. For all intents and purposes, he had passed away. A co-worker spotted him just as it happened, grabbed the AED, and “brought him back to life”. After a recovery in the hospital, the CFO is now “alive and kicking” thanks to the quick action of his co-worker. The irony is that the CFO had thought the device too expensive prior to purchase, but the President of the company overrode his decision and purchased the AED. Now they are purchasing a dozen more for all their locations.
The American Heart Association recommends the following in establishing an AED Safety Program:
- Have a Medical Professional oversee the program. Purchasing an AED requires a prescription. This is very easy to obtain from the suppliers.
- Notify your local EMS Responders that you are using an AED.
- Select, Place, and Maintain AEDs – Chose the right AED, place it in an accessible area, and provide the very simple maintenance to ensure that the AED is functioning correctly. Most important is to make sure the batteries are charged at all times, or the AED is rendered useless.
- Training likely responders. Training on AED use is integral to ensure employees can properly use its life saving features.
Automated External Defibrillators are now considered so easy to use that New York State has included AED’s under the “good faith” clause in the Good Samaritan Laws. “Good faith” protection under a Good Samaritan law relieves volunteer responders (not acting as a part of one’s occupation) from civil liability for the harm or death of a victim if they provide improper or inadequate care, given that the harm or death was not intentional and the responder was acting within the limits of his training and in good faith.
New York State and municipalities within the State have passed legislation to require AED’s in certain types of buildings including large schools, health clubs, government institutions, and public buildings with large capacities. AED’s are not required to be available in most workplaces, but that does not mean that they cannot be a major part of your Safety Program. Of course, there are costs associated with AED’s, including equipment, employee training, and replacement parts. However, the investment could mean saving the life of your employees, your customers, or even yourself.