Think about the savings. The American Heart Association feels that 100,000 lives could be saved each year if automated external defibrillators (AEDs) were placed in public buildings.

AEDs deliver an electrical shock to persons in cardiac arrest. They have been shown to decrease mortality when used in conjunction with cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Once only the domain of highly trained emergency professionals, these technologically advanced defibrillators are easy to use and fast becoming the standard of care on airplanes and cruise ships, in airports and convention centers and in other public places.

Legislation in some states mandates AEDs.

For example, New York State requires AEDs in school buildings. In New York, much of the credit for the placement of AED in schools has been spearheaded by the Louis J. Acompora Foundation, which was established to honor a student who died at school.

Anticipating Regulations

A standout AED installation is in the Hauppauge School District, Hauppauge, N.Y. In fact, Edward Spear, the Hauppauge Schools’ director of security, was ahead of the legislation, with placement of AEDs in school buildings a year prior to the governor’s signature.

In addition to purchasing the equipment, Spear has also worked on ways to secure the equipment while still making it easily available in an emergency.

“Many would say we should keep units locked up and let everyone who needs to know about the AED know where it is stored. Yet in a majority of incidents, this does not serve the people who need the AED most,” says Spear.

Here is how Hauppauge Schools interfaced security technology to the AED program:

AED cabinets are wired to an alarm panel, which transmits a signal directly to the Suffolk County Fire Rescue Dispatch Center. Emergency telephones are above each AED cabinet. In addition, the cabinet alarm panels are tied to the public address system. The integration allows broadcasting of an overhead page calling for assistance to respond. Every AED has an emergency 911 cellular phone in an accessory kit.

Guard tour stations are on each AED cabinet to assure cabinets are checked on a daily basis. And custom signage assures that students, staff and visitors understand the purpose of the AEDs and the potential consequences of tampering with the equipment. In addition, the AED cabinets have been placed within view of the school buildings’ video system.

Of course, school staff and students have been trained and retrained in how to perform CPR and use the AEDs.

Spear credits much of the success for the AED program to the support received from the Board of Education, central administration, as well as the staff and students to make the AED program a success.

He also suggests that other public and private facilities can gain from the experience of the Hauppauge, N.Y. School District. It found that a more intelligent implementation of AEDs, with communications and security additions, make for a more effective program.