5 Key Features That Make an AED Easy to Use
AEDs, or automated external defibrillators, are lifesaving devices that analyze a person’s heart rhythm and deliver an electric shock when someone is experiencing a Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA).
While the survival rate from SCA hovers around 10% nationally, the American Heart Association found that 9 out of 10 people in cardiac arrest who receive a shock from an AED within the first minute survive. This is why quick access to an AED is one of the most critical parts of improving survivability.
Ensuring widespread AED accessibility in public spaces, workplaces, and communities enables bystanders to act swiftly during emergencies. An AED that can easily be used by more people broadens the pool of potential responders and can provide more equitable health outcomes. An AED that can be used on more types of people can help improve response times for all patients, regardless of age, culture or gender.
Here are the features you should assess to determine whether your AED is inclusive enough for your community and environment.
5 Features that Make AEDs More Universal
In emergency situations like cardiac arrest where time is of the essence, the approachability of the AED that’s available is incredibly important. Greater AED accessibility increases the opportunity for an AED to be quickly, effectively deployed in an emergency.
Regardless of your perceived user group, an inclusive set of AED features is crucial for swift and effective intervention and ultimately can help increase the chances of surviving cardiac arrest.
The Avive Connect AED offers a bilingual language selection between English and Spanish to help non-English speakers deliver accurate, fast care during an emergency. By simply pressing the Español button at the top of the device, the user can change the audio and visual instructions to Spanish at any point during the rescue.
In emergencies, clarity of directions is important for both trained and untrained responders, so providing a language option ensures broader accessibility to aid in prompt, effective AED usage (and CPR guidance if offered).
Useful settings: Environments such as schools, churches, workplaces, or community centers that host both native English and native Spanish speakers
Child Button & Universal Electrode Pads
While AEDs can safely be used on both children and adults, some models require extra materials (pediatric keys, specific electrode pads, etc.) to make the devices safe for use on children.
The Avive Connect AED’s universal electrode pads and Child button streamline response in critical moments: simply select Adult or Child mode to respond to patients over one year old using the same set of electrode pads. Eliminating the need to swap out pads for children, the device’s Child button will quickly lower the energy of the shock to what is appropriate for a child between the ages of 1-8 years. This feature ensures a seamless transition between adult and pediatric patients, allowing responders to focus on immediate, lifesaving actions without the added complexity of changing equipment when time is of the essence.
Useful settings: Elementary schools, youth summer camps and sports programs, pediatric medical offices, public pools
Inclusive Instructions & Graphics
A woman is less likely to receive CPR in public when compared to a man, which makes her odds of surviving a cardiac arrest 23% lower than her male counterparts. The gender discrepancy in SCA survival largely comes from bystander hesitancy to perform CPR on women and remove the bra to apply an AED.
The Avive Connect AED is the first and only AED to depict a woman’s chest in its instructions to help combat the discrepancy in survival. The audio prompts also instruct the user to, “expose the patient’s bare chest, including bra,” to aid in the care of women and reduce any uncertainty on the part of lay responder.
Useful settings: Public buildings, workplaces, schools, public gyms & recreation centers
AED Size & Weight
Since cardiac arrests are unpredictable and rapid defibrillation is critical for survival, it’s important to have an AED that is both small and light enough to carry on the go to encourage widespread use. Large and heavy AEDs give the impression that they are stationary, whereas light and small AEDs rightfully encourage users to bring them to the places where cardiac arrests are more likely to happen.
Useful settings: Law enforcement, athletic departments, homes, outdoor recreation, medical drone delivery
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Placement Practices to Increase AED Accessibility
So, once you have an AED (or multiple), you must decide where to keep them. The more conveniently placed your AED is, the greater its potential for impact.
Take the below factors into consideration when choosing a spot for your facility’s AED to ensure that people with varying abilities are able to access it easily.
Ensure AEDs are strategically placed in public, unlocked, and highly trafficked areas to enhance accessibility. Your facility may have areas like cafeterias, large conference rooms, gyms or auditoriums where groups of people gather–these are great spaces to place AEDs!
Consider the obstacles that might slow someone down when trying to access an AED, such as stairs, elevators, locked doors, cabinets, or desks, and avoid placing devices there.
If your organization has several AEDs but they’re not placed in highly visible areas, responders won’t be able to easily grab and use the lifesaving technology. To increase your AED’s visibility, use signage and place your AED in highly-trafficked areas. Having 3D wall signs above your AEDs will enable responders to find the nearest AED across a large room (much like spotting the nearest emergency exit) which can save time in an emergency.
Mounting Height of the AED
Maintain AEDs at a mounting height not exceeding 48 inches from the floor. This height facilitates easy accessibility for users of varying heights, which promotes swift and efficient response in critical situations. To be in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, make sure your AED is installed no higher than 48” from the ground and that it is accessible via forward and parallel approaching wheelchair users.
Number of AEDs
If a university campus that is spread across several square miles only has one AED, that AED is not accessible.
Based on the size and foot traffic of your facility, multiple AEDs may help to increase their accessibility. To effectively respond to cardiac arrest, you should have an AED within a two minute round-trip from anywhere at your facility. Multi-story office buildings, large schools and universities, and organizations with a large footprint require more than one AED to ensure the lifesaving care is attainable to anyone on the premises.
AED accessibility matters when considering both the AED user (responder) and the patient, and a more fully-featured AED will extend the potential benefits of a defibrillation shock to more people.
By choosing an AED with features that cater to diverse groups and optimizing its placement, you can increase the accessibility of your AED program. Avive is committed to working towards more equitable health outcomes. Features like on-screen graphics and audio prompts, language toggling and a Child button remove barriers so that your AED can be used by more people, on more people.