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Automated External Defibrillators (AED) (cont.)

Public Access Defibrillators

The evolution of early defibrillation took another major step forward with the concept of public access defibrillation or "PAD."

  • It is now recognized that AEDs are extremely easy to use.
  • Formal training programs, such as those offered by the American Heart Association's Heartsaver AED course, can be taught in as little as 4 hours.
  • However, operating an AED is so simple that it can be done successfully even without formal training. Training is recommended for as many people as possible.
  • Local and state regulations determine the training requirements for PAD programs.

The legal requirements that allow the lay public to use AEDs are determined on a state-by-state basis.

  • In some states there is true public access defibrillation, meaning that anyone with knowledge of an AED can use one any time it is available. For example, a traveler in an airport may retrieve and use an AED mounted in a public location.
  • In other states, use of AEDs is more restricted. Some states require a formal training program, the direct involvement of an authorizing doctor, or that the AED rescuer be part of a formal in-house response team.
  • In most states, any individual using an AED in a good faith attempt to save the life of a cardiac arrest victim will be covered by some form of a "good Samaritan" statute.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 4/23/2015
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