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The Dangers of DIY AED Management

Every minute that passes during a sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) without automated external defibrillator (AED) intervention lowers the chance of survival by 10%. These statistics underscore the critical importance of AEDs in saving lives during cardiac emergencies. It's a responsible decision for any organization to invest in defibrillators, considering the staggering reality that over 1,000 SCA emergencies occur each day in the United States alone.

However, since procuring AEDs may seem like the primary task, managing these life-saving devices is often an afterthought. Many organizations pay little attention to ongoing AED maintenance and only focus on the initial purchase from the manufacturer. Yet, there's no room for error when it comes to AEDs. Their proper functioning can mean the difference between life and death. As you're considering acquiring AEDs for your organization, you might find that managing them is more involved than initially anticipated. We’re here to tell you that you don’t have to manage your AEDs alone. There’s an alternative to outsource AED management to an AED readiness partner that acts as an extension of your safety team. 

From regulatory compliance to device maintenance and training requirements, learn the reasons why we don’t recommend managing AEDs in-house. You need the most effective and reliable solutions when lives are at stake!

The Appeal of DIY AED Management

Many individuals and organizations are drawn to the idea of handling AED management themselves, sometimes because there doesn’t seem to be any other option. Let's explore some of the reasons why the prospect of DIY AED management may seem appealing:

Seemingly Low Difficulty: Some may think that AED management is a straightforward task that doesn't require specialized expertise. The process may seem as simple as mounting the AED on the wall and undergoing basic training. This dangerous perception can lead individuals or organizations to believe that they are capable of managing their AEDs effectively without external assistance.

Convenience: With DIY management, individuals or organizations can handle AED maintenance on their own schedule without needing to coordinate with external service providers. The flexibility can particularly appeal to those who value autonomy and the ability to tailor maintenance tasks to their internal needs and schedules.

Perceived Cost Savings: Professional AED management services often involve fees or subscription costs. Some individuals or organizations may perceive DIY AED management as a way to save money by avoiding these expenses, especially when resources are limited like for small businesses or community organizations.

Individuals and organizations who opt to manage their AEDs themselves often do so out of a genuine desire to ensure the safety and well-being of those in their community or workplace. Their willingness to take on this responsibility reflects a commendable commitment to preparedness and emergency response. However, good intentions do not automatically produce good results. While the appeal of DIY AED management is understandable, it's essential to weigh these factors against the potential risks and challenges associated with managing these critical devices independently.

The Realities of Doing It Yourself

Organizations may underestimate the importance of proper AED management and believe the risk of AED malfunction or non-compliance is minimal. The misconception can lead them to feel comfortable managing the devices themselves without fully grasping the potential consequences of inadequate maintenance or oversight.

Here are some of the complexities that organizations may not fully anticipate:

Buying AEDs: Acquiring AEDs involves more than simply hanging them on the wall. Organizations must consider factors such as the number of devices needed, their placement within the facility, and the regulatory requirements associated with their purchase. AEDs are classified as Class III medical devices, requiring a physician's note for procurement. Each device must also be initialized and registered to ensure proper functionality and traceability.

Ongoing Maintenance: Effective AED management extends beyond the initial purchase. Organizations must track the expiration dates of pads and batteries, as well as source replacement parts from manufacturers that aren’t known for being responsive. Regular monitoring of AEDs is also necessary to detect any on-screen errors or malfunctions that may compromise their effectiveness during an emergency.

Adequate Training: Proper training is essential for ensuring that staff members are prepared to respond effectively to cardiac emergencies. CPR/AED trainings are typically conducted on generic AED units rather than the organization’s specific model, potentially leading to confusion or improper use in a crisis. Staff turnover further exacerbates the issue, as trained individuals may leave the organization, leaving a knowledge gap in emergency response capabilities.

Coordination: Managing AEDs involves coordination with various stakeholders, including the manufacturer, training center, and possibly a monitoring service. Coordinating these efforts can be time-consuming and complex, particularly for organizations with limited resources or expertise in AED management.

Compliance: Regulatory requirements for AEDs vary by state, and organizations must stay on top of federal, state, and local laws to ensure compliance. Failing to meet regulatory standards can result in legal liabilities and penalties, underscoring the importance of staying informed and proactive in maintaining compliance.

Post-Event Usage: Do you know what to do after an AED is used? There are strict post-event protocols that must be followed. Tasks include downloading ECG data for medical review and providing necessary information to law enforcement. Additionally, organizations need to be prepared to replace the deployed AED promptly to maintain safety and readiness for future emergencies.

The Risks of Failing

The consequences of failing to properly manage automated external defibrillators (AEDs) can have devastating repercussions:

Sudden Cardiac Arrest Death: Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) is a serious threat that can strike anyone, regardless of age or fitness level. It's a leading cause of death not only among the general population but also among student athletes. Every year, countless lives are lost due to SCA, highlighting the urgent need for effective emergency response measures. Failing to ensure the availability and functionality of AEDs can result in preventable deaths and irreversible loss within communities and organizations.

Legal Repercussions and Penalties: Organizations that fail to meet regulatory requirements for AED management may face legal liabilities and penalties. In the event of a cardiac emergency where an AED is either not available or not functioning properly, the organization could be held legally responsible for negligence. Legal action resulting from such incidents can lead to significant financial costs, damage to reputation, and even closure of the organization in extreme cases.

Guilt and Sadness: One of the most profound consequences of failing to adequately manage AEDs is the emotional toll it takes on those involved when a life is lost. The knowledge that a life could have been saved if proper measures had been in place can evoke feelings of guilt, remorse, and aching sadness. The emotional weight can have long-lasting effects on individuals and organizations, undermining morale and community trust.

The Better Option: Outsourcing AED Management

When the stakes are so high, do you really want to do AED management on your own? Work with an AED readiness partner to get peace of mind and security that your AEDs are ready to go at a moment’s notice.

An AED readiness partner acts as an extension of your safety team to ensure that your organization is fully prepared to use an AED to save lives. They handle everything from defibrillator setup to post-usage processing, providing a truly turnkey AED management experience for organizations. 

I had never owned an AED device and didn't know what it took to maintain them. Blake at Premedics explained it’s pretty simple: ‘If you use the pads, we send you new pads. If the light says the battery is bad, we send you a new unit.’ But I didn’t know anything about this. So Premedics gave me a little bit of comfort in knowing that they knew the device and I could rely upon them so I didn't have to learn it all. I didn't have to worry that I was doing the wrong thing with the AED, because again, it's a lifesaving device it’s not like a go-cart tire.

James Burley
Franchise Owner, K1 Speed

These are all the areas that you can outsource to an AED readiness partner:

  • AED Consultation
  • AED System Setup
  • AED Maintenance
  • CPR/AED Training
  • AED Monitoring
  • AED Compliance
  • AED Indemnification
  • Post-Event Support

With all of those benefits included, it’s actually more cost-effective to sign up for an AED readiness partner’s AED subscription than it is to buy AEDs directly. Everything is bundled into one predictable monthly price that doesn’t change even when you need replacement accessories or devices.

Choose an AED Subscription Instead

While you may be tempted to manage your organization's AEDs internally, we strongly advise against it. We've witnessed the pitfalls of DIY AED management time and time again. Unfortunately, it’s all too common for defibrillators to be left sitting unused in boxes, locked up so no one has access, or have expired batteries when someone tries to use them during an SCA. Even the most well-intentioned safety teams with established protocols identify flaws when we inspect further. 

Choose an AED subscription service instead. This superior solution provides comprehensive management by dedicated readiness partners who handle every aspect of your AED program. To discover the full scope of services offered by an AED readiness partner and understand the benefits of outsourcing AED management, we invite you to download our Readiness Partner in Action Checklist. It outlines everything that a professional AED readiness partner manages on your behalf, offering transparency and clarity in the decision-making process. The responsibility of saving lives shouldn’t be left for someone to do alone!