Public Access Defibrillation

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Public Access Defibrillation

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Why Businesses Need AEDs (Automated External Defibrillators)

Over 350,000 people in the U.S. die each year from cardiac arrest. Cardiologists believe that over half of these people could be saved if there were widespread availability of defibrillators.

Defibrillators deliver an electric shock that restarts the heart in cardiac arrest victims. Unfortunately, the window of opportunity of saving the victim is around five to six minutes from the time of cardiac arrest. The American Heart Association (AHA) and cardiologists around the country are pushing for much wider availability of defibrillators. They believe that defibrillators should be available in many places such as factories, health clubs, apartment buildings and in private homes and should be able to be used by a variety of people who are not health care professionals.

The medical facts are alarming. Approximately half of all people who have heart disease die without warning, never having previously shown any symptoms of heart disease. In addition, cardiac arrest does not always mean that a heart attack has occurred. Clogged arteries can actually cause the heart's electrical impulses to become disorganized, which results in a condition called ventricular fibrillation which can last up to five minutes. An electric shock from a defibrillator reorganizes the electrical impulses so that the heart can resume its normal beating. Timing is crucial; with each passing minute the heart has less and less electrical activity. Contrary to what people see on TV and in movies, once a patient has "flat lined", there is no electrical activity left in the heart; it is too late for a defibrillator to save the patient.

The argument for widespread use of defibrillators has been made possible by the development of a new wave of defibrillators that are much easier to use and can be operated by almost anyone. The devices have several important features. All of the machines weigh about five pounds and were designed in consultation with the AHA to be simple for amateurs to use. Not only do the long life batteries eliminate the need for maintenance or recharging; computer chips also test the operating system each day. The machines give simple voice instructions so that users in a panic do not need to stop and read directions. According to the manufacturers, heart rhythms can be analyzed by the machine to determine if a shock is needed; if so, the machine then charges up, tells the rescuer to stand clear, and delivers a shock, sometimes two or three if necessary.

Companies are choosing to purchase defibrillators to help ensure the safety of their clients. American Airlines is the first airline to equip all of its planes with defibrillators and other airlines are also considering doing the same. Numerous businesses in Davenport have AED's already, and that number is expected to grow.


What's public access defibrillation?

Public access defibrillation (PAD) means making AED's available in public and/or private places where large numbers of people gather or people who are at high risk for heart attacks live.

What is an AED?

The automated external defibrillator (AED) is a computerized medical device. An AED can check a person's heart rhythm. It can recognize a rhythm that requires a shock. And it can advise the rescuer when a shock is needed. The AED uses voice prompts, lights and text messages to tell the rescuer the steps to take.

AED's are very accurate and easy to use. With a few hours of training anyone can learn to operate an AED safely. There are many different brands of AED's, but the same basic steps apply to all of them.

What is the cost of an AED?

AED's vary in cost by vendor and options. An AED can be purchased for $1,500 to $2,500.

Why would my business purchase an AED when Davenport Fire Department is 3-4 minutes away?

Only 5-10% of those who suffer sudden cardiac arrest survive. Time is critical; survival rates decrease 7-10% with every minute that treatment is delayed. CPR is not enough; immediate defibrillation is the most effective treatment within the first few minutes of arrest.

My business already has an AED in place, who do I need to contact regarding it?

Contact EMS Coordinator Captain Todd Witchelo at 563-888-2186 or

Email at

For further information take a look at the next three links or contact

EMS Coordinator Captain Todd Witchelo


The manufacturer of the defibrillators used by Davenport Fire Department has provided the following brochure explaining implementation of an AED in business and industry

AED Program: Implementation Guide for Business and Industry

American Heart Association Information on AED's

Contact Information

If you have any questions regarding this service, please contact .