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Setting up a successful AED program

Determine Need

The first step in establishing an AED program is to determine that you need one to begin with. The second step is proving it to the bosses. Studies indicate that in the US alone there are over 450,000 deaths per year due to Cardiac Arrest. Cardiac Arrest kills more people than car accidents, breast cancer, prostate cancer, handguns, fires, and AIDS COMBINED with a majority of cardiac arrests occurring outside the hospital.
The death of one employee, friend, co-worker or family member can devastate a workplace or public setting. As the public becomes more aware of AED's and their importance in saving lives, the expectation of providing adequate care by someone trained in CPR and an AED nearby is going to become the standard. It is important to understand as you decide to move forward in your AED decision that setting up an AED is not just going online and buying an AED, it is a commitment by everyone involved to build a solid foundation for an AED program that will be successful long term.

Identify a champion

It is important to identify someone within your organization that will take the lead in building the AED program. This person should be committed to the long term success of the program, gather information, act as the AED liaison and the facilities AED expert. The champion will perform the research on AED's and meet with stakeholders to determine budget, policies, who will be trained, maintenance procedures and logistics.

Research and Understand State and Jurisdictional AED Requirements

You should understand all the requirements for your state when placing an AED. Don't worry its not as difficult as you think and we'll help you out along the way. Check out our AED laws by state page to determine what your laws or requirements are for placing an AED in your facility. Most state laws have the same basic 3-4 requirements for placing an AED in a public setting. 1. Medical Direction 2. EMS Notification 3. Maintenance in accordance with manufactures specifications 4. Training in CPR & AED. We will discuss these specific components in detail. In addition there maybe state registration requirements.

Medical Direction

What is medical direction and why do I need it?

Many states require that AED programs to have Physician Oversight or Medical Direction as a part of their overall AED plan. Medical Directors typically review policies and procedures, assure adequate training has been provided to rescuers, consult on placement and are available for program guidance and event review. You may already work with a physician that can oversee your program and serve as a medical director. It is important to review your individual state laws to determine if Medical Direction is required. Many states are starting to repeal this requirement.

What if I don’t have a Medical Director?

Ideally you can find a local physician that will work with you and act as your medical director but if not, we work with ENPRO an AED program management solution that can provide you with a full program to assure regulatory compliance regardless of your location. ENPRO can provide your organization with Medical Direction, Policies and Procedures, PlusTrac (AED inspection reminder Service with documentation), EMS notification, AED training programs (additional fee), regulatory tracking, upgrade/correction notifications. Click here for more information

What is the difference between Prescription/Medical Authorization and Medical Direction?

AED’s are regulated as class III medical devices and do require a prescription for purchase(the Philips Heartstart Onsite is available without a prescription) All AED purchases thru come with a Prescription and Medical Authorization. The Prescription/Medical Authorization only facilitates purchase and fulfills FDA requirements. Medical Direction is a Physician overseeing the AED program and reviews AED events. Medical Direction is not include with your AED purchase and you may need to purchase separately depending on your state.

EMS Notification

Many states require EMS notification as a requirement for placing an AED. This allows the servicing or responding agency to know that an AED is at a particular location and in some instances the 911 dispatcher will have that information and can advise callers to its location.  To meet the requirement you will need to first determine who you need to send the notification to. Most laws just say "notification to servicing EMS agency" talk with your local fire department and they maybe able to help you determine where the notification needs to go. Some states require state registration. Your states Health Department can also be helpful in answering your questions. Once you have determined who you need to notify, we suggest sending the EMS notification via certified mail.

Sample EMS Notification Letter

Check with you State Health Department or EMS agency to determine your states specific requirements.

Visit our AED Laws by State Page for your AED laws.

AED Maintenance

Most state AED laws require that AED's be maintained in accordance with manufacture specifications. How do you do that? We have compiled excerpts from each specific AED's operations manuals that explains the operational tests and checks that should be done on a regular basis. Some even have checklist that you can just print out!

Click to find out what you need to do to check your AED

Cardiac Science



AED Inspection tags are a great tool to record the AED monthly inspections. Do it at the same time you do your fire extinguisher inspections.

CPR and AED Training

CPR and AED Training is criticial to your AED programs success. One thing we hear often is "why do we need to be trained on the AED, isn't it really easy to use?" While it is true AED's are very easy to use, it is only half the battle. During cardiac arrest Defibrillation is indicated about 60% to 70% of the time, however CPR is indicated 100% of the time and with the combination of early CPR and early defibrillation you can increase the persons chance of survival significantly. It is important to budget CPR/AED training when planning your AED program. Most states require training in order to be covered with civil immunity for using a defibrillator. Good CPR and AED training will typically last 3-4 hours and cost between $30-$50 per person. Refresher training should be every 2 years at a minimum. Some states stipulate the AED programs that are approved for AED training.

When finding a instructor to provide your training it is important to find an experienced instructor who knows and understands AED's. Ask the instructor if he has a training AED, perhaps the same model you are purchasing? People can be apprehensive about being a part of the response team or being a trained responder but by having good quality training and lots of hands on can help out tremendously.

Find out what your state requires and visit our AED state laws page.

Training Videos
*Note: Training videos should not take the place of traditional CPR and AED training, but rather serve as a refresher between formal CPR and AED Training Classes

Need training in Washington or Oregon? We provide training services in Washington State and Oregon.
Visit for more details.

AED Policies and Procedures

A good AED program will have policies and procedures that outline the AED program criteria, responsibility of rescuers, maintenance guidelines, operational steps for use, post event procedures, reporting mechanisms and will be your overall guide that outlines the AED program as a whole. Typically the policies and procedures will be created with the input of all stake holders (HR, Security, Legal and Management). We have some sample policies and procedures from schools and business. Keep in mind that every AED placement and situation is going to be a little different and if you do decide to use our policy templates make sure that you modify to meet your needs and your state requirements.

*The sample AED policies are intended as an example and is not intended as medical or legal advice. Permission is granted to reproduce these sample AED policies for the purpose of using it as a starting point towards the creation of a formal AED policy. Before preparing and implementing any AED policy, ensure that it fully complies with the directions of your medical advisor, applicable laws, regulations, corporate policies and manufacturer's operating procedures. makes no warranties as to the accuracy and completeness of the samples provided.

Legal Risk

Is there increased legal risk to me or my organization for implementing an AED program?

All organizations should evaluate the relative risks and benefits when considering the implementation of any program that affects employee welfare. According to the American Heart Association, to date, no known judgments have been rendered against the operator of an AED for negligent or improper use of AEDs. According to an article on AEDs and legal liability published in Air & Space Lawyer (a publication of the American Bar Association), “liability claims associated with the negligent operation of AEDs are mitigated by the difficulty in establishing that the operator proximately caused harm to the victim…The AED operator is attempting to resuscitate an individual who, absent the AED, will likely remain dead.”

By contrast, recent news indicates that corporations may face liability for failing to have an AED available to treat a victim of sudden cardiac arrest. For example, in June 1996, a Florida jury found Busch Gardens negligent for not properly training its employees to provide emergency care and for failing to have essential medical equipment, including a defibrillator, on the premises. The plaintiff was awarded $500,000 in damages for the death of her teenage daughter at the amusement park. This is just one example of many judgments that have been handed down since then as a result of not having AED's and properly trained individuals available in an emergency.

The Cardiac Arrest Survival Act passed by Congress in 2000 provides a model that states could adopt to encourage widespread use of AEDs and other lifesaving devices and provide immunity for those who give emergency care. Read the Cardiac Arrest Survival Act. Good Samaritan laws enacted by nearly every state enable a range of non-traditional emergency responders to use AEDs. In further support of these legislative efforts, Many AED manufactures offer customers an indemnification agreement to AED users in the event of product malfunction* (terms vary by manufacture).

In summary, the benefits of AEDs, the relative manageable cost of implementation and the lack of other effective treatment alternatives can present a compelling argument that corporations and other organizations might have a duty of care toward their employees, customers, patrons, etc. who may suffer sudden cardiac arrest. Failure to purchase and use AEDs could conceivably subject these corporations to an increasing liability risk in this rapidly evolving legal arena. It is important to read and understand your specific state law as it pertains to AED's. Find your states AED Law/s


Adopting an AED program can reduce legal risk - Richard Lazar, Esq.

Choosing the right AED

With so many AED's on the market today, how do you choose the right one? We have developed an AED buyers guide that can help you determine which AED is right for you based on your situation. AED Buyers Guide

AED Placement

Where should we place our AED within our building? We have compiled some guidance for this question. AED Placement

AED Promotion

Before the actual placement of the AED takes place you should make sure that staff have been trained in CPR and AED. We also strongly recommend that there be a effort to widely communicate the placement of the AED to all staff and patrons. No one will use something if they don't know that it exists. If you are a school you should mention the AED and its location in one of your weekly bulletins or other publications. When looking at particular rescues and incidents when AED's were not used and they could of or should have been, it usually comes down to a lack of education or just someone not knowing what an AED is or where it is. This is very important in the overall success of your AED program. Although a person may not be trained to use an AED, you may need them to retrieve it for you in the event of an emergency while you start CPR.

Refresher Training

Make sure refresher training is a part of your plan. It is not a one time thing. Refresher training should be conducted at a minimum of once every 2 years or more frequently if possible. We have many customers that practice and drill on their emergency response and AED plan 2 times per year and they are good. It doesn't take long but it does make a difference.

Congratulate yourself and everyone involved

Congratulations. Your efforts can save lives. We hope the AED collects a lot of dust but We have had some AED customers use their AED multiple times. The implementation process looks daunting but really it can be done very quickly and easily. Remember is always here to help you if you have any questions or need some help getting things moving. We can provide you additional templates and help you out with any questions you may have.