Selecting An AED for Community Program

Only "Wrong" Choice is Not Buying One

Consider Placement

  • Stationary Or Moved Around A Lot? Any AED will do well as long as it is kept in a stationary location in a heated building. If it's moved in and out of the trunk of a car so that it is available at a soccer complex, for instance, you need to be concerned with its durability and its ability to withstand some abuse. None of them will hold up if they are permanently stored in excessively hot or cold areas during all seasons of the year.

  • Is Noise A Problem? AEDs placed in facilities where noise is a problem (or might be used by people with hearing impairments) should provide both visual and verbal prompts. In noisy areas, the rescuer can rely on visual directions. In addition, the clarity and loudness of the voice prompts differs from one unit to the next. If possible, try to hear a sample of each unit's voice prompts to determine which would work better in a noisy environment.

Don't Place Too Much Emphasis On Operating Costs

  • Check warranties to make sure that if your AED malfunctions, it will be repaired promptly and at no cost, and that a loaner will be provided.

  • Expensive maintenance programs are not required for AEDs in public access defibrillation programs. However, such plans are recommended for AEDs that see heavy use.

  • Claims that replacement batteries and electrodes are expensive need to be put into perspective. Most AEDs will be used so infrequently that the cost of replacing these items is inconsequential.

Consider Group Targeted For Protection

  • Can the AED treat children? Every AED will work with adults. Although relatively rare, SCA does strike children , either as a result of blunt trauma to the chest, respiratory arrest, or congenital heart disease.

Consider Ease-of-Use And Training Requirements

  • Unambiguous Voice Commands. An AED must help the trained rescuer defibrillate a victim as quickly and calmly as possible. Any confusion - ambiguous pad-placement icons, slow device response, or unclear voice commands - has the potential to slow down the process. When choosing an AED, look for one that initiates each phase of the resuscitation with unambiguous voice commands.

  • Fewer Steps Are Better. The fewer steps that must be followed, the faster a shock can be delivered. Try each model out to see whether the number of prompts 'feels' right - enough to provide guidance, but not so many as to bog a rescue down. Will the AED help responders use it effectively in an emergency situation? Additional physical steps can also slow response time in an emergency. Consider AEDs that have their pads pre-connected and those that do not have any lids or moving parts that add additional steps to the rescue.

  • Less Training Required Is Better. The less training a rescuer needs to receive, the more likely that rescuer is to recall the training when an emergency occurs. In fact, it has been shown that even people with no training can intuitively use some AEDs effectively.

Consider Ease Of Maintenance

  • Automatic Self-Tests. Some AEDs require manual testing with external devices and periodic calibration, in some cases performed by factory service personnel. This type of maintenance can be time-consuming and may require costly service contracts. Some AEDs conduct their own self-test functions and can tell you when certain problems occur, such as a low or depleted battery. Many AEDs automatically initiate daily self-readiness checks and continuously display their readiness for use. These checks offer assurance that the unit will perform when someone's life is on the line. Look for an AED with these features. That way, you avoid the added expense and inconvenience of taking the unit out of active duty on a routine basis.

  • Manual Tests. Periodically, the AED should be manually checked. This may only mean that someone checks to see that its 'Ready' signal is displayed and that the electrodes and battery are present and are not beyond their expiration dates. Models differ on how easily these tests can be completed.

Only One "Wrong Choice": Not Buying One

No one model is likely to come out on top in every category. The only wrong choice you can make is not to buy an AED after you have determined that your facility needs one.

* The guidelines provided here are designed to help you select an AED for a public access defibrillation program. In such a program, the device that you ultimately select will be used infrequently, if ever. Our suggestions may not apply to those selecting AEDs for environments where the AED will be used weekly or monthly.