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An Automatic External Defibrillator (AED) is a device that combats cardiac arrest by administering defibrillation to a patient experiencing ventricular fibrillation or ventricular tachycardia, thereby increasing the patient’s chances of survival. Both of these conditions indicate a heart that is beating, but not correctly, and therefore not pumping blood through the body as is necessary for survival. With the proliferation of AED kits throughout most public-use buildings as building codes and public awareness grew more thorough on this issue, the ability to get an AED to a patient in need is increasing also. This is a key technological and public-policy breakthrough, as both ventricular fibrillation and ventricular tachycardia are extremely time-sensitive. For every minute that a patient is without proper blood flow during such an episode, their projected health outcomes get (on average) more grim. Restricted blood circulation can have especially dangerous effects on the brain, a sensitive and crucial organ.

Thus, it is of high importance to ensure that not only are AED kits available at regular and accessible intervals in buildings where it is appropriate or required, but that these kits are inspected and tested regularly to ensure they are in good working order. This is why Automatic External Defibrillator inspections are so key. Additionally, AED devices are designed to be operated by laypeople who have taken a class on how to operate one, not medical personnel. This means that a huge amount of the functionality has to be automated, so that all the layperson needs to do is attach the device and the heartbeat regulation function can be performed autonomously. The ability of any person to administer this life-saving technology saves precious seconds, leading to better patient outcomes (while training is encouraged, even untrained volunteers can likely administer the device in a pinch). Thus, they must be inspected regularly to ensure they are functioning up to this high standard.

Luckily, AEDs include a “readiness indicator” which demonstrates whether the device would be able to begin shock treatment if used at the moment, so simple visual inspections are often very useful. Since the device is inside a kit, this involves locating the kits, opening them and inspecting the contents. Often, the reason for lack of readiness is battery drainage, since the batteries need to be recharged or replaced as frequently as every two years.

Typically, on an educational or public organization campus, the Occupational Health and Safety department would be responsible for carrying out the regular testing and maintenance of these devices. At privately-owned buildings, however, hiring a contracted technician can be the best way to ensure that this happens at the recommended frequency. Another reason that a private entity might prefer to outsource the inspection to a contractor is for protection from liability. If done in-house, the liability for any malfunctions would stay in-house as well, while a contractor who specializes in this service would have both training to ensure that no mistakes are made during this critical procedure, and the proper liability insurance. If your building is offering AED devices, it’s critical that they are inspected and serviced regularly. Perhaps a private contractor is the right choice for your building.

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