In an ideal world, every staff member in a nursing home would be an expert in using an AED (Automated External Defibrillators). But, as we all know, things aren't always how we would like them to be.
Although AEDs are designed to be simple to use - even by those who are not trained - there are extra risks involved when using one on a vulnerable or sick person.
In the USA, someone dies of a cardiac arrest almost every two minutes. Defibrillating a victim of an SCA (Sudden Cardiac Arrest) within 3-5 minutes can boost chances of survival from 6% to 74%!
Therefore, it’s best you keep your AED policy and staff members up to date. With a well developed and implemented AED policy, anyone who works in your nursing home will be better prepared to save a life and save a family from suffering a terrible tragedy.
So, here’s a quick checklist of points you should cover in your AED policy, as recommended by the American Heart Association.
Cover the legal aspects
Make sure your policy covers the legal aspects and that your staff understands them too. Many organizations across America are concerned about their liability for getting and using AEDs, which may also make your staff hesitant in using one.
All 50 states and the District of Columbia now include using an AED as part of their Good Samaritan laws. Under the Cardiac Arrest Survival Act of 2000 persons using the AED and the purchaser of the AED device have limited immunity.
The act also encourages the placement of AEDs in federal buildings and ensures federal liability protection for those who acquire or use an AED to help save a life.
Therefore, you and your staff should not be in fear of using an AED, but in fact, feel empowered to save a life.
Guarantee easy access to AEDs
When an SCA strikes, timing is crucial. You only have 3-5 minutes to save a life.
This is why everyone should know where to find an AED immediately, wherever they are. They should be in places that are easy to access in a rush.
Don’t keep your AEDs a secret. Depending on the size of your nursing home, you may need several devices in several locations. Remember an SCA can happen anywhere, any moment, and without warning.
Develop a maintenance and support routine
Like you would with other facilities, it’s important to do regular inspections of your AEDs to ensure they are in working order. You can talk with your AED supplier about this, they can advise on updates or upgrades needed.
For peace of mind, you may want to arrange a support program so you can ensure your devices are maintained and will not let you down if ever an emergency arises.
You’ll probably want to make sure that technical support is available when needed. See how responsive the technical support number is. Is a representative available to help you right away? Are you on hold for a long time? Does your call go to voice mail? These are all worthy questions to ask.
Work with medical professionals
When implementing your AED program, you may require a physician’s prescription to purchase an AED. So, work closely with a trusted physician as they may be responsible for signing off on or making recommendations for any plans or policies involving an AED.
You should also work closely with your local Emergency Medical Services (EMS), as this is a requirement in most states. Your local EMS will need to be provided with follow-up data after the use of any AED.
These are, of course, only the fundamental points but will be really useful places to start implementing your AED policy.