10 Common Mistakes Found in School AED Programs

1. Not having enough AEDs to cover the building properly.According to the American Heart Association, the goal of every AED program is to deliver defibrillation to a sudden cardiac arrest victim within 3 to 5 minutes of collapse. Perform response drills within your school building to make sure you can reach a victim within that timeframe. ¹

2. Placing AEDs where they are inaccessible after hours, such as behind locked doors.Schools often have events after-hours, such as night games in the gym, when sudden cardiac arrest can occur. Make sure AEDs are available wherever and whenever people congregate on the school grounds.

3. Not having enough signage indicating the placement of the AEDs throughout the school.Clearly designate where AEDs are located within the school so staff and school visitors can easily locate them during an emergency. Sudden cardiac arrest is a very stressful event, so make it as clear as possible for rescuers to locate the device.

4. Not checking the AED’s pads’ expiration dates.All AED pads have an expiration date stamped on the outside of the package. These pads need to be replaced by their expiration date to perform optimally in an emergency. Keep your AED rescue ready by having a procedure in place for checking and replacing your AED’s pads. School Health offers an AED Program Management Programto help you keep track of pad expiration dates.

5. Removing the batteries from the unit to save battery life.Your AED’s battery is what powers the AED to deliver life-saving shocks. In the event of an emergency, your AED should be ready to deploy. Every second counts, and if a rescuer must delay the life-saving shock in order to insert the battery, the results may not be optimal. The rescuer may not realize the battery is not in the unit until after the unit is already on the patient or may be unfamiliar with how to insert your device’s particular battery. Always keep your battery in the unit.

6. Not checking the unit’s battery life.Similar to replacing an AED’s pads, the other key replaceable component on an AED is its battery. As the power source for the AED, it is imperative that a school has a procedure in place that periodically checks on the AED’s battery life. Be sure to order a replacement battery well before your existing one needs replacing. You do not want your AED to be out-of-service because you’re waiting for a battery replacement to ship. School Health’ AED Program Management Program will keep track of your AED’s battery life.

7. Having too few people trained to respond to a sudden cardiac emergency within the district.According to the American Heart Association, an AED operator must know how to recognize the signs of a sudden cardiac arrest, when to activate the EMS system, and how to do CPR. It's also important for operators to receive formal training on the AED model they will use so that they become familiar with the device and are able to successfully operate it in an emergency. Training also teaches the operator how to avoid potentially hazardous situations. ² School Health’s AED Program Management Program will help you manage staff training.

8. Not having a Policy and Procedure in place.Schools should have a policy in place that clearly defines the responsibilities and protocols for use of the AED. The policy should document all aspects about your AED program, such as the medical director, the location of AEDs, responsibilities of rescuers, operational steps for use, post event procedures, and the maintenance of the AEDs. The procedure should include guidelines for determining when it should be used, and a protocol written by a medical doctor outlining the operation of the AED. Sample policy and procedures are readily available from School Health, EMS organizations, AED manufacturers, or other schools. Visit the School Health Safety Center for more information.

9. Misunderstanding the warranty and indemnification length of their unit and the impact these have on the district.Every AED differs in their lengths of warranty and the indemnification policy. Always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for normal use and service so units remain covered by the warranty. Remember that once your AED warranty expires, the school must pay for any service or technical support. The indemnification policy states that the manufacturer will defend and indemnify any person or entity who purchases or uses an AED against any claims, damages, liabilities, or actions asserted by a third party. The indemnification policy is often limited in years and places the financial burden upon the school after it expires.

10. Not having an AED program coordinator and/or a designated emergency response team.Identifying these people as part of an AED program is extremely important to the success of your program. An AED program coordinator will be responsible for communication with the medical director, emergency response team members, administration, the local EMS and the public about the AED program. The AED program coordinator will also perform quality assurance activities such as ensure first responders are CPR/AED trained and re-trained, that the AEDs are properly maintained, and participate in case reviews. The emergency response team will complete a CPR/AED training course, understand the policy and protocol for responding to medical emergencies, and follow the procedures outlined in the AED protocol when responding to SCA victims. When choosing how to manage your AED program — keeping your school compliant, your staff trained, your AEDs serviced, and your data tracked — trust School Health to be your one stop solution.

School Health AED Program Management

School Health Safety Center


References: ¹ American Heart Association. Working Against Time Brochure. 2003

²American Heart Association. Web. 19 Apr 2011. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/CPRAndECC/WorkplaceTraining/AEDResources/AED-Programs-Q-A_UCM_323111_Article.jsp#If AEDs are so easy.


Posted in AED and Sudden Cardiac Arrest