Automated External Defibrillator (AED)

Location of AEDs

Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) is a medical event in which the heart’s rhythm becomes erratic, and the heart can’t pump oxygenated blood to the brain or other vital organs. Unless a normal heart rhythm is restored within a short time, death is virtually inevitable. An Automated External Defibrillator (AED) is a compact and portable, battery-operated device used to automatically deliver measured electrical shocks in order to reestablish the heart’s normal rhythm. The simple operation of AEDs makes them suitable for public places, to be used by those who have basic Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) and AED training. The AED circuitry is designed to analyze cardiac rhythm and inform the operator whether a shock is indicated. Electrode pads on the victim transmit information to the device for both monitoring and shock therapy. Once activated, AEDs have voice and text which will guide the user through a few simple steps. The AED will NOT electrically shock the victim unless the unit’s pre-programmed computer indicates that a shock is necessary—at which time, a “voice prompt” will warn bystanders to not touch the patient during the shock phase.

Keys to Survival Success

When Sudden Cardiac Arrest occurs, several key contributors to survival must be initiated in rapid order. Those key factors are known as the “Chain of Survival:”

  1. Early Recognition
  2. Early CPR
  3. Early Defibrillation
  4. Early Access to EMS (Emergency Medical Services)

Early bystander cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and rapid defibrillation are two major contributors to survival of adult victims of sudden cardiac arrest, however these must be combined with other elements such as recognition that a person is having a medical emergency and early access to local Emergency Medical Services, hopefully with Paramedic services. According to the AHA, "Use of AEDs by first responders and laypersons has reduced time to defibrillation and improved survival from sudden cardiac arrest in several communities.”

Expected / Authorized Users

Technically, anyone—including untrained bystanders—are protected from civil litigation when using an AED in good faith (under Colorado Good Samaritan Laws); however, we encourage personnel to have prior training. On our campus, training will be offered on a first-come, first-served basis. AEDs for use by the public or university bystanders will be expected to be available at any time by anyone. General staff should be aware that they are not required to use an AED, nor are they specifically compensated for assisting a victim of sudden cardiac arrest. Except for campus police, and medical professionals in a clinical setting, all university employees are considered “volunteers” when rendering assistance to any individual suffering a medical emergency. Most of the University Police officers are trained to use AEDs, as are many on campus health care providers.