The widespread availability of AEDs, automated external defibrillators, is a huge step forward for public health. Sudden cardiac arrest can happen anywhere, and waiting for EMS services to arrive is all too often fatal.
Installing a system of portable defibrillators can be complicated, but paying attention to the key safety requirements makes the task simpler. A functioning and properly stocked AED cabinet is the first essential step; beyond that, it is crucial to develop plans for user training, awareness, and strategic AED locations.
Having an established AED program in your establishment will help the general public feel safer and be safer.
Types of AED Cabinets
AED cabinets come in several configurations. The main differences come from how they are installed into the wall, and how the alarm system operates.
Consider the different options available for AED installation:
Recessed cabinets are installed completely within a wall; these take up the least space, but it can be difficult to avoid disturbing interior electrical wiring.
Surface mounted cabinets are installed outside a wall; they conversely take up the most space, but there’s no need to modify the wall.
With the bulky size of these AED cabinets, it is important to consider ADA regulations for installation (see Accessibilitybelow).
Semi-recessed cabinets only protrude a small amount from the wall, combining both the benefits and disadvantages of the above two types. Semi-recessed cabinets are often preferred due to their combination of visibility and ADA compliance.
Most AED cabinets have an audible alarm that activates when the door is opened. Alarms serve multiple purposes: they alert bystanders to the nearby medical emergency, and they serve as a deterrent to theft or tampering.
Some cabinet alarms are equipped with strobe lights, which are strongly recommended as they provide a strong visual signal when hearing an alarm is not easy. The final alarm option to consider is the duration/type of noise that serves as the alarm, which is explained here.