AED Frequently Asked Questions

Questions and answers below are directly borrowed from the American Heart Association website. We recommend viewing their site for continued information regarding AED education.


Public access to defibrillation (PAD) means making AEDs available in public and/or private places where large numbers of people gather or where people who are at high risk for heart attacks live.
The automated external defibrillator (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.
The AHA strongly advocates that all EMS first-response vehicles and ambulances be equipped with an AED or another defibrillation device (semiautomatic or manual defibrillator). The AHA also supports placing AEDs in targeted public areas such as sports arenas, gated communities, office complexes, doctor's offices, shopping malls, etc. When AEDs are placed in the community or a business or facility, the AHA strongly encourages that they be part of a defibrillation program in which:

• Persons that acquire an AED notify the local EMS office.
• A licensed physician or medical authority provides medical oversight to ensure quality control.
• Persons responsible for using the AED are trained in CPR and how to use an AED.

A licensed physician or medical authority provides medical oversight to ensure quality control.
Persons responsible for using the AED are trained in CPR and how to use an AED.
It's important for the local EMS system to know where AEDs are located in the community. In the event of a sudden cardiac arrest emergency, the 9-1-1 dispatcher will know if an AED is on the premises and will be able to notify the EMS system as well as the responders already on the scene.
This is a quality control mechanism. The licensed physician or medical authority will ensure that all designated responders are properly trained and that the AED is properly maintained. He or she also can help establishments develop an emergency response plan for the AED program.
Early CPR is an integral part of providing lifesaving aid to people suffering sudden cardiac arrest. CPR helps to circulate oxygen-rich blood to the brain. After the AED is attached and delivers a shock, the typical AED will prompt the operator to continue CPR while the device continues to analyze the victim.
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.
AEDs are manufactured and sold under guidelines approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA may require someone who purchases an AED to present a physician's prescription for the device.
Your local EMS system can help you find out about local and state protocols and requirements for AED training and use.
If the person is a trained and licensed medical first responder (MFR), an established standard of care is outlined in the law, and those operating within these guidelines are protected under these laws. These same guidelines pertain to the personnel in your EMS system. If they are not trained and licensed MFRs, check the state laws to determine if lay rescuers are given limited liability immunity. If not, they may not be protected from litigation. Agencies should seek legal counsel before implementing a defibrillation program.
The price of an AED varies by make and model. Most AEDs cost between $1,500–$2,000.
Any person or entity wanting to buy an AED may first need to get a prescription from a physician. The AED should be placed for use within an AED program that includes these elements:

• Training of all users in CPR and operation of an AED (this can be achieved through the AHA's Heartsaver AED Course).
• Physician oversight to ensure appropriate maintenance and use of the AED.
• Notifying local EMS of the type and location of AED(s).

Children over age 8 can be treated with a standard AED. For children ages 1–8, the AHA recommends the pediatric attenuated pads that are purchased separately.