Public Access Defibrillation Laws & Guidelines

AED laws

A Review of Public Access Defibrillation and the 13 Essential Elements to an Optimum PAD Program

The term sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) refers to an electrical malfunction within the cardiac system, causing the heart to stop beating. When SCA occurs, the heart experiences ventricular fibrillation (V-fib/VF) or ventricular tachycardia (V-tach/VT) and the rendering the victim unconscious. The lack of oxygenated blood to the brain causes brain tissue damage and eventually death.

Emergency medical services (EMS) respond to approximately 300,000 out-of-hospital SCA each year. On average, less than 8% of those who experience SCA survive the trip to the hospital. The number of fatalities has remained relatively unchanged in the last 30 years, but when victims of SCA receive a lifesaving shock from an automated external defibrillator (AED) before EMS arrives, the survival rate improves significantly.

In 2010, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) produced a Summary of Public Access Defibrillation Laws which promoted the likelihood of SCA survival if a bystander retrieves and applies an AED and a breakdown of state laws. This document also includes Public Access Defibrillation (PAD) policies which aim to expand on each state’s legal requirements to improve the rate of AED use before EMS, therein saving more lives impacted by SCA.

This map of the United States summarizes each state’s number of public access defibrillator program elements as of January 1, 2010.

As of 2010, all states have enacted laws addressing at least the PAD element. However, no jurisdiction required all 13 elements essential to an ideal PAD program. These 13 elements include:

  1. Targeted AED Site Placement to Maximize Use
  2. Ongoing Basic Life Support, CPR and AED Training of Anticipated Users
  3. Maintenance and Testing of AED to Ensure Functionality
  4. Notification or Registration of the AED with State/Local EMS
  5. Activate 9-1-1 EMS
  6. Report the Use of an AED to EMS
  7. Oversight by a Licensed Physician or Medical Authority
  8. Written Emergency Response Plans of Medically Approved Protocols
  9. Plan to Evaluate Out-of-Hospital SCA
  10. Good Samaritan Civil Immunity for Untrained and Trained Lay Rescuers
  11. Immunity for AED Acquirers
  12. Immunity for Program Directors
  13. Immunity for Owner, Manager or Renter of the Premises Where AED is Located

AED Laws

Many PAD programs are at risk of failure due to one or more of these elements being overlooked. It is imperative to have policy makers, businesses and communities consider strengthening PAD policies by enacting more qualified laws. By doing so, we decrease the time from collapse to shock, and ultimately improve SCA’s dismal survival rates.

Does your AED and AED Program include all 13 elements? To learn more about your state’s AED laws and how to successfully set up your AED program and PAD program, call AED Superstore today.

3 Responses to “Public Access Defibrillation Laws & Guidelines”

November 14, 2018 at 8:58 am, Yvette Eipper said:

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Would like to know about Texas laws


November 21, 2018 at 2:18 pm, AED Superstore said:

Hi Yvette,

There is a map of the states and their laws here: Thanks for commenting!


July 01, 2019 at 7:15 pm, Olivia Boyd said:

Why hasn’t Ohio or Pennsylvania jumped on this band wagon there are so many areas where hospital access is an hour out?


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