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Public Access Defibrillation Programs

Public Access to Defibrillation (PAD) is the latest in the line of tools developed to combat sudden death in a public setting. Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) are being installed in numerous buildings and public gathering areas. Sometimes these areas are privately owned, others may be governmental. All of this is being done to help combat sudden cardiac arrest and increase survival rates.

Time is of the essence in combating sudden cardiac death. CPR alone isn't enough. Most victims are in a condition called Ventricular Fibrillation. If defibrillated within 3 minutes, survival rates can be as high as 74%. Placing AEDs in those places where anybody can get to them and use them can literally make a difference between life and death.

The Chain of Survival

The American Heart Association has added the AED as a vital link in it's 'Chain of Life.' AEDs, along with PAD Programs, make up a vital and critical link in the chain. The chain includes

  • Early recognition and access into the EMS system as the first link
  • Early CPR is the second link
  • Early Defibrillation makes the third link
  • Early Advanced Cardiac Life Support, typically Paramedics of the local EMS System, are the vital last link

Starting A PAD Program in Your Area

To implement a PAD program in your business or other public area, there are some common things you will need to do. First, get a consensus of the stake holders. Get a cross representation of all of those affected. Second, review the local laws in your area. Good Samaritan Laws have been passed in all 50 states, and the Cardiac Arrest Survival Act of 2000 encourages AED use in all federal buildings. Keep in mind that there are variations in local laws and regulations, and you must follow your local laws.

Next contact your local EMS Agency. They will know who is responsible for monitoring of the PAD Programs in your area. In some areas, it is a requirement to notify EMS. It is always a good idea, even if not required. You will also need a Medical Director to write a prescription for an AED for your facility. He or she will provide medical oversight, and help develop your protocol or 'standing orders.'

You will need to chose the type of equipment you will need. There are many manufacturers of AEDs. Look over all of them and select the one that is right for you and your organization. You will also need to train as many folks as possible to use the AED. The AED is simple enough to be used without any training, but being knowledgeable of what to do in an emergency is a valuable asset.

You will need to determine how many AEDs you need and where to place them. Your local EMS agency, PAD Program Coordinator, or Vendor can assist you in this. Plan a budget that includes initial purchase of equipment, training of staff, and replacement of items such as AED pads.

Once the AEDs are in place, promote the program. Get as many folks as possible involved. Let the public know what you are doing. Having a PAD Program shows you care about the employees and the guests in your facility.

This is just a brief overview. We offer links to other web sites where you can get more information. As time goes on, we intend to provide generic material that you may find useful here on this web site. We encourage you to look into starting a PAD Program in your place of employment, or anywhere that there is a gathering of the public.

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