AED’s in the Workplace or Maybe Not

A survey shows half the employees in the United States don’t know where the AED is at their workplace, much less how to use it. (Leon Brocard/flickr)

Odds are strong that if you have a cardiac emergency at work, no one there will know what to do to help you in the precious moments before paramedics can arrive.
The American Heart Association says even though there are about 10,000 cardiac arrests in the workplace each year, most employers are not at all prepared to render assistance.
Paramedic and owner of Advanced Professional Healthcare Education Adam Fritsch says even if a business has an Automated External Defibrillator, or AED, available, Fritsch says a lot of employees would be afraid to use it – although they shouldn’t be.
“Not at all,” he insists. “Most AEDs today, especially the newer models, have only two buttons on them. It’s as simple as pushing the “on” button to turn the machine on, and then just follow the prompts for what it tells you to do. It will walk you entirely through the process.”
Tennessee has a Good Samaritan law in place that protects owners of AEDs and those who use them from liability for any unintentional medical harm.
The American Heart Association points out that an AED is of no use if employees don’t know where to find it or how to use it.
Fritsch says there are a number of myths surrounding AEDs that can make people hesitate to use one to help a stricken fellow employee. Sometimes people are afraid they’ll make a mistake and do more harm.
“The reality with the AED is, you can’t hurt a person with it,” he notes. “If you put it on a person and they don’t need the shock, the AED will tell you not to deliver the shock, whereas, if it does tell you to shock, that person must be having a cardiac emergency and must need that shock.”
Recent surveys have shown that half of all workers in the U.S. could not locate an AED at their workplace, and in the hospitality industry, nearly two-thirds of the employees had no idea where the AED was at their workplace.
“My encouragement to any fellow entrepreneur or employer out there would be to at least consider having some of their staff trained, even if they can’t afford having everybody trained,” says Fritsch. “To at least have some people on each shift that are aware of what to do in these emergencies can really go a long way to make a big difference.”
The American Heart Association says an AED can literally save lives, and encourages employers and employees to learn how to use one.