New estimates attribute 456,000 deaths a year to sudden cardiac
arrest. We can expect most organizations will soon implement
AED programs share much common ground with safety programs
that address fires, earthquakes, and other emergencies. All
require a thorough plan. For an AED program, the plan addresses
where the AEDs and other emergency medical supplies will be
located, who will respond to a medical emergency, what training
they will need, and who will manage and document the planning,
deployment process, and training.
Typically, organizations assign one person the responsibility
for implementing their AED program. If you are that "program
manager," you should be committed to learning about aspects
of emergency medicine, sudden cardiac arrest, and AEDs.
Sudden cardiac arrest occurs when an electrical malfunction
causes the heart to quiver ineffectively or stop beating,
stopping blood flow to the brain and vital organs. Fewer than
5 percent of SCA victims survive, but it doesn't have to be
that way. Survival rates of 75 percent have been achieved
in organizations with defibrillation programs. An SCA is not
a myocardial infarction or heart attack. A heart attack typically
occurs when a blockage restricts blood flow to the heart,
killing the muscle because of inadequate blood supply.
|For the past several years,
the American Heart Association's estimate of 220,000 deaths
per year caused by SCA was enough to make it the leading
cause of death in America. However, new estimates attribute
456,000 deaths a year to SCA. Couple these sobering statistics
with recent AED endorsements and guidelines from the American
College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM)
and Building Owners and Managers Association International
(BOMA), and a "prompt letter" from the federal
Office of Management and Budget encouraging OSHA to initiate
regulations mandating AEDs in the workplace, and it is
reasonable to expect that most organizations soon will
implement AED programs.
|The chief factors affecting deployment
criteria include the financing committed to the
project and federal, state, local, and medical regulations.
If there is a common thread that runs through all AED program
recommendations and guidelines, it is the recognition that
saving the life of a sudden cardiac arrest victim and protecting
employees requires more than buying an AED and adding it to
a medical supplies cabinet.