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Maintaining Your AED

Maintaining Your AED

The maintenance of an automatic external defibrillator device (AED) is key to ensuring that it will work properly when the unexpected time comes that you may need to use it on a friend, coworker, or loved one. 

So why should I maintain my automatic external defibrillator? Rather than just telling you why, let’s let the facts speak for themselves. 

“Survival from cardiac arrest depends on the reliable operation of AEDs,” said Dr. Lawrence DeLuca, a professor of emergency medicine at the University of Arizona in Tucson. One way to make sure your AED functions properly when it is needed is to make sure it is properly maintained. The batteries and pads need to be replaced per the manufacturer’s recommendations to make sure your AED works when you need it most.

Dr. Lawrence led a 2011 review of more than 40,000 AED malfunctions reported to the FDA between 1993 and 2008. The analysis found that 1,150 deaths occurred during those failures. Many of those were most likely due to improperly maintained AEDs.

No one knows exactly how often someone attempts to use an AED.  With an average survival rate of 2 percent to 4 percent from sudden cardiac arrest outside a hospital, according to studies, AED devices help save roughly 3,500 to 7,000 lives each year.  It should be noted though that not all of the rescues are performed by untrained bystanders. If AEDs were more widely available, the number of saved lives could triple or more, experts say.

“AEDs can truly be lifesavers, but only if they are in good working order and people are willing to use them,” said DeLuca, who had a personal experience with batteries failing on an AED when he was trying to revive a fellow guest at a resort in 2008. It took nine minutes to retrieve a second AED, which did work. The patient was not able to be revived.

Problems with pads, cables and batteries accounted for nearly half the failures — mistakes that often are due to poor maintenance. Forty-five percent of failures linked to fatalities occurred when the device was attempting to charge (power up) and deliver a recommended shock to someone in cardiac arrest, DeLuca said.

For example, in Washington, D.C., there have been at least two sudden-cardiac-arrest deaths one in a gym in 2011, one in a Metro subway station in 2012 — that occurred when AEDs failed to work due to dead batteries.

But there also were incidents reported to the FDA when the devices shut down without analyzing a patient’s heart rhythm. Regulators and watchdogs believe some victims were not revived when the machines failed, but it’s difficult to say whether any particular patient would have had heartbeat restored.

According to the FDA, in one case, a nurse was trying to hook up a defibrillator to a patient when the screen read “memory full” and shut down. In another, a software defect caused the machine to flash an “equipment disabled” message.

“These devices are critically important and serve a very important public-health need,” Meisel said, noting that none were being taken out of service beyond the recalls manufacturers have already issued. “Patients and the public should have confidence in these devices and we encourage people to use them under the appropriate circumstances.”

AEDland would like to graciously thank the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation for these opinions and statistics. The hard work that was put into finding these answers with the goal of saving a person’s life is priceless. Some of the information provided you can find by clicking the link below. 

https://www.sca-aware.org/sca-news/portable-defibrillators-need-regular-maintenance-to-prevent-failures

One of the great ways to maintain your defibrillator is to create or use a check list. Here are some things to consider and a check list for you to use. 

AED Course Training

First aid cardiopulmonary resuscitation course using AED training.

Know Your AED Maintenance Needs

Read and know what the manufacturer guidelines are for your AED. Report any defects discrepancies, missing parts, and expired accessories. Automatic external defibrillators require pads that have an expiration date. Keeping the pads up to date assures proper adhesion to the skin to get the right amount of protection and shock to the person. With actual experience in the field as an EMT, our team can’t preach enough about keeping your pads and electrodes up to date. Keep an extra AED battery for your defibrillator on hand. In an urgent moment not having a charged battery can mean life or death. To make a long story short, be a hero, replace the expired accessories.

Calibrating Your AED

Some manufacturers have a calibration program where they have you send your unit in to them and they run the calibration program on it, test it and re-certify it. Once all tests and a good cleaning of it is done they will send it back to you. Some manufactures will send detailed instructions as to how to maintenance and calibrate your machine yourself. 

Suggested AED Maintenance Schedule

Each defibrillator company has a suggested maintenance schedule. Each schedule should be similar to your states requirements, that is if your state requires them. Each state is different so please check your states requirements. Here at AED land we suggest monthly checks and to have extra supplies on hand to be fully prepared. Click here for a list of our products and package deals and save money!

Cleaning Your AED

When necessary, clean the defibrillator with the suggested cleaning agents by the manufacturer per the instructions for use. 

AED Maintenance Checklist

A checklist can be very simple or detailed. It’s up to you what you would like. We suggest you follow your AED manufacturer’s maintenance guidelines and build your own checklist based on their suggestions. Here is a list we suggest your checklist at least have. 

  1. Do we regularly check the AED status light to see if it’s functioning? Every time you run a drill make checking the light a part of the drill. 
  2. Is the automated external defibrillator clean and free of any damages or defects?
  3. Do we have two sets of adult electrodes and one set of pediatric electrodes?
  4. Are all electrodes unexpired and in original, sealed packages?
  5. Does the primary battery work?
  6. Is there a backup battery?
  7. Does the backup battery work?
  8. Do we keep the Automatic External Defibrillator plugged into an outlet when not in use?
  9. Does the unit have a function data card (if applicable)?
  10. Do we have enough secondary supplies (alcohol prep pads, razor, gloves, scissors, wash cloth, etc)?

There are many different types of checklist’s out there. Some defibrillators have a checklist that come with them. However, in the event that your automatic external defibrillator does not come with one, the American Heart Association has graciously created one for people to use. The link below will take you to it. 

https://www.co.washington.or.us/HHS/EMS/upload/AED-AHA-Maintenance-Checklist.pdf 

As always “Be a hero, save a life”

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