AED Maintenance is Key for Defibrillators

As a distributor of AEDs, Iridia would like to take this opportunity to comment on the recent CBC media reports regarding AEDs not operating correctly or failing.  As indicated in the article, a reason for the failure of an AED to function properly has been the lack of routine maintenance.  It is important for individuals or organizations who have purchased an AED to frequently check their device to ensure it will be ready when needed.  To ensure readiness, a routine check would involve inspecting the following:

  • Expiration dates on the battery and electrode pads.  If either items are about to expire or have expired, immediately order and replace the soon to expire/or expired supplies.
  • AED examined for visible damage. 
  • Electrode cable is securely connected to AED
  • Spare set of electrodes is present with AED
  • Rescue Kit is present with AED

AED Maintenance

To help organizations manage their AEDs, Iridia provides an AED Medical Direction Program with a focus on AED maintenance. As part of this program, we track the battery and electrode expiration dates, placing a call to your organization in advance of expiration to ensure the AED is always ready to be used.

In addition to helping track expiration dates, the AEDs we distribute are equipped with safety features to help ensure the AEDs will work when needed. The following are some of the features:

Physio-Control LIFEPAK CR Plus AED:

  • Performs weekly and monthly automatic self- tests for functionality
  • 4 Readiness indicators
  • SafeGuard Power System – a dual layer of security inside the CR Plus the internal battery is kept to its optimal power level via the CHARGE-PAK™ battery charger.
AED Maintenance

Cardiac Science Powerheart G3 Plus AED:

  • Rescue Ready Technology
    • a daily, weekly and monthly check for functionality of all main components (battery  and electrodes for presence and capacity, software and hardware)
    • visual alarm (Rescue Ready Status Indicator turns from green to red)
    • an audible alarm (prompting the user to service the unit)
AED Maintenance

The media reports also state that some defibrillators did not deliver a shock.  It is important to understand that in some sudden cardiac arrest situations, the defibrillators may not deliver a shock because it is not needed.  When the electrode pads are placed on the patient’s chest, the device analyzes for 2 shockable rhythms:  Ventricular fibrillation (VF) or Ventricular tachycardia (VT).  If these shockable rhythms are detected, a shock will be delivered.  If they are not detected, a shock will not be delivered and the rescuer will continue with CPR.  If a device does not deliver a shock, it does not mean the unit has failed.

Like all safety equipment, AEDs should be maintained according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.  Having a regular maintenance plan in place can help ensure your AED will be ready to use when needed.

AED Failure: an Avoidable Problem

Maintaining Automatic External Defibril­lators (AEDs) is perhaps the most impor­tant step in an AED program. Staff at a Washington D.C. gym learned this the hard way when a 55-year old man named Ralph Polanec collapsed.

The staff members at the gym rushed to grab their AED but could not get the device to turn on and deliver the life-saving shock Ralph’s heart needed.

Despite the best efforts of EMS personnel and friends at the scene, Ralph’s heart nev­er restarted. Later it was found out that the batteries had been removed from the de­vice when they lost their charge, they had never been replaced, effectively rendering the AED useless.

“He shouldn’t have died. I was very upset that the equipment wasn’t working, be­cause if it had been working, it might have saved him, it’s no good if it doesn’t work,” said 77-year-old Ruth Polanec, Ralph’s stepmother.

AED Failure

Ruth is not alone in her reaction. As it turns out, battery problems are one of the leading causes of potentially deadly AED failures.

AED failureA recent study shows some 1,150 deaths were tied to AED failures over a 15-year pe­riod, and nearly one in four of those failures were caused by problems with batteries. Dr. Deluca, the study’s lead author, determined that 23.2 percent of the AED failures were due to battery/power failures, while 23.7 percent were due to problems with the pads or connectors.

Even though the report describes a variety of maintenance related problems, DeLuca is quick to note that AED failures appear to be very rare. “I don’t want to send the mes­sage that these devices are unsafe or that they don’t work,” DeLuca said. “Most of the time they do work and they save lives.”

AED batteries generally last up to five years. But it is important to implement an AED program that regularly checks for error mes­sages and could alert users about low batteries.

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