Because of their dramatic impact on survival rates and their incredible ease of use, more and more Automated External Defibrillator’s (AED) are popping up in public places as part of Public Access Defibrillator (PAD) Programs. Many workplaces have even taken the initiative to have a machine onsite to help protect their employees.
While many people are interested in purchasing a defibrillator for their workplace or recreational center many don’t know where to start.
One of the most important factors in determining what type of AED you should consider is the environment/workplace you intend it for. For example; if you are purchasing a unit for a large office you want a machine that is very user friendly but wouldn’t necessarily have to be tough. If you were purchasing a unit for a construction site or factory floor you might consider a machine that could withstand a fall or have a higher IP rating to better resist dirt and water.
The environment also dictates the number of AEDs you should consider purchasing. If your office is located in a high rise above the fourth floor you should have your own unit, even if the building management has one available in the lobby. Recent studies show that survival rates decline for people in buildings above the fourth floor. If you work in an industrial setting with multiple buildings you should consider purchasing one for each building. Your unit should never be more than two minutes away from any of your employees.
What is an IP Rating?
IP Rating stands for Ingress Protection Rating. This number determines your machines ability to withstand water and other particulates (sand, dirt, etc.). The higher the number the better your machine can stand up to the elements. For example, if your machine were in an indoor, temperature controlled environment you could select a unit with a lower IP rating.
While all workplaces in Ontario are required to have staff certified in first aid not everyone who has access to the machine will be trained. If your AED will be available to a number of untrained people you will want it to be as simple to use as possible. If your potential rescuers speak French you should consider a bilingual unit that allows a rescuer to easily transition voice prompts from English to French and vice versa. Some units have additional accessibility features such as text prompts to accommodate users who are hearing impaired or working in a loud environment.
If you work with children under 25kg (55lbs) or eight years and younger, you may want to consider a unit with paediatric features. This can include optional paediatric pads or a key that allows you to switch between adult and child casualties.
Once you have selected the right AED for your location you may need to purchase accessories to go with it. The top accessories we suggest include:
Most AEDs come with a basic carrying case to ensure your unit is protected but depending on where you plan to keep it you may require a cabinet or case. If you are hanging your AED in a place where it is easily accessible to the public we highly recommend investing in an alarmed cabinet. An alarmed cabinet will alert your staff/responders to the emergency as well as deter theft. If your AED will be kept outdoors we suggest a Pelican™ style case to better protect it from the elements.
There is little good having an AED if no one knows you have it. When you have decided on a place for your unit make sure to hang a wall sign so people know where it is. You can also purchase decals for the front of your building/office to let other people know there is an AED onsite.
All AEDs come with a set of electrode pads ready for rescue but we highly recommend having a second pair on hand in case the initial set is damaged during the rescue or have become dry while stored. If you are working with children eight years of age or younger (less than 55kg) you may want to consider a set of Paediatric Pads, however most regular electrodes can be adapted to child casualties.
AED Response Kit
All AED units should be accompanied by an AED Response kit, this is a small customized first aid kit specific to AED rescues. The kit includes a CPR mask, gloves, scissors, towels, a razor and antiseptic wipes.
Dianne Rende is the Executive Director of St. John Ambulance, Peel Dufferin Branch. As Canada’s leading authority in first aid, St. John Ambulance is dedicated to improving health and safety at work, at home and at play. Dianne can be reached by email at [email protected] or for more information visit www.sja.ca