According to the American Heart Association’s newly released Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics - 2018 Update there are more than 366,000 sudden cardiac arrests (SCA) annually in the U.S. With all of today's advances in technology, automated external defibrillators (AEDs) are now widely available, safe, portable, and easy to use. They provide the critical and necessary treatment required for an SCA. According to OSHA using an AED within 3-4 minutes after SCA can lead to a 60% survival rate.
But in order for an AED to save a life, it must be working properly. Here are answers to some common questions about checking your AED.
How Often Do You Need to Check Your AED?
Manufacturer's recommendations and state requirements may vary based on what type of equipment you have and where you are located. Most devices are set to do a “SELF TEST” on a daily, weekly or monthly basis and will alert you through an audible and/or visual prompt. The industry standard is to routinely inspect these devices once a month to ensure the status indicator window is displaying a Pass or Fail symbol (green check, flashing light, the words OK are common). More thorough or more frequent checks may be required, so it is important to get to know your AED and any applicable local requirements.
How to Check The Defibrillator
Basic inspections include a quick glance at the readiness indicator located on the front of the device. Additional items may include but are not limited to, reviewing the expiration date of the electrode pads and batteries, examining the wires for any fraying or lose connections, testing alarmed cabinets or verifying the contents of the rescue ready kit.
How to Check Your AED’s Batteries
All batteries should have either an Install By or Expiration date clearly marked on the outside of the battery itself. Based on your particular device, the installed life of the battery can range from 1 to 5 years. Additionally, you can force your AED to perform a self-test which will check the level of the battery and alert you when it is low. Unfortunately, self-tests consume battery life so it is best to always follow the manufacturer's guidelines when verifying the battery status.
How To Check Your AED’s Pads
Electrode pads will always have an Expiration date or Use By date indicated on the packaging. You should not attempt to use/reuse opened pads because they can become compromised once opened. Electrode pads can last anywhere from 1 to 5 years.
Tools You Can Use To Check Your AED
Generally, no mechanical tools are necessary for checking the readiness for use of your AED
It is important, and often required by state law, to keep a log and maintenance history of your device. Many AED owners use a manual checklist or lockout tag out practice to monitor the routine inspections.