AED's provide a needed line of defense against sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) and drastically increase a cardiac victim’s chance of survival if used within the first three minutes. However, while implementing an AED or PAD program is highly beneficial to a community, if each AED is not properly maintained, those benefits may be slowly negated. As of 2011, several people have died from cardiac arrest when an AED was available simply because the units had dead batteries.
AED units, while innovative and automated, are still relatively simple to maintain. The two primary components that require attention are the batteries and AED pads.
The batteries and electrode pads in an AED have to be replaced according to the manufacturer's schedule – typically every 2-4 years. In fact, replacing the necessary parts is required in order to comply with PAD program requirements and most state AED mandates. Batteries and pads should be replaced within 90 days of expiration, which varies according to manufacturers. Luckily, most units now include a service indicator that reveals when the machine needs serviced – however, someone has to be paying attention to the unit as an AED administrator.
AED's provide an electric shock to the heart and in order to carry out that critical function must have an ample electric power supply, which is why checking the batteries is a crucial component of AED maintenance. AED's use long-life Lithium batteries, but the life of the battery depends upon the amount of usage – unused batteries in stand-by mode may last up to 4 years, though the lifespan is diminished with each shock, with frequently used batteries rated for up to 300 shocks.
AED batteries can be ordered from AED retailers or manufacturers. Battery installation instructions are likely included in your user's manual, and remember to always perform a battery insertion test to ensure that the new battery is functioning properly after any installation or replacement.
AED pads are lightweight pads that permit defibrillators to operate without applying gel on the patient's chest. They are made of a thin conductor between a polymer backing and hydro-gel adhesive, which acts in place of traditional gels to conduct the shock onto a patient. Unfortunately, adhesive can dry out over time, compromising the machine's ability to correctly transfer the shock to a patient. Pads include an expiration or “use-by” date and should be changed out before expiring.
PC cards for AED displays and gloves for the responder are other items that should be replaced in order to provide a clear, sanitary AED experience. However, AED gloves must also be replaced.
A visible check should be made each day to ensure that your unit is not indicating scheduled maintenance. Though this may sound excessive to some, a quick visual inspection by the administrator takes just a few seconds when passing by, as long as he/she is in the habit of doing so. A monthly inspection by an AED coordinator should also be performed.
Along with maintaining your organization's AED, be sure to communicate your AED's existence and placement within your building to your local emergency medical services, as well as placing the AED in a visible, public area near a phone. By following these steps and electing an AED administrator to maintain each AED unit, your AED can fulfill its intended purpose and possibly safe a life in your community.
For more information on AED accessories, visit www.aed-shop.com.