Heart smart: AEDs in the workplace

An employee at an automobile manufacturer was working on the production line when he suddenly collapsed, lost consciousness and stopped breathing.

Plant security responded, and after two shocks with an automated external defibrillator (AED), the employee’s heart responded and his pulse returned, according to the American Heart Association (AHA). He’s alive today thanks to the fast actions of his co-workers and the company’s emergency response plan, which included AED installation and training.

There are 220,000 victims of sudden cardiac arrest per year in the United States; about 10,000 sudden cardiac arrests occur at work, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Waiting for the arrival of emergency medical personnel results in only 5-7% survival.

If you don’t have AEDs in your workplace, perhaps you should consider getting them.

Here is a Q&A to get you started:

Book of Company Policies D

Q: What is an AED?

A: The AED is a computerized medical device. An AED can check a person’s heart rhythm. It can recognize a rhythm that requires a shock. And it can advise the rescuer when a shock is needed. The AED uses voice prompts, lights and text messages to tell the rescuer the steps to take.

Q: Why should we have AEDs in the workplace?

A: A heart rhythm in ventricular fibrillation may only be restored to normal by an electric shock. For each minute defibrillation is delayed, the chance of survival is reduced approximately 10%.

Q: What about the training to use them?

A: Your workers can easily be trained to: recognize sudden cardiac arrest and notify EMS personnel; perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR); provide early defibrillation with an AED; and care for the victim until EMS personnel arrive.

Q: Is the training on AEDs intensive?

A: The AHA has developed a new Heartsaver AED Course that integrates CPR and AED training. The course is less than four hours long.

Q: Where would we put them?

A: AEDs should be conveniently installed to ensure response within 3-5 minutes. Also consider placing them in company fitness units and cafeterias.

Q: How much do they cost?

A: AEDs cost $1200-$3000 per device. Training, annual retraining and administrative costs are additional.