What is an AED?

Through news reports as well as personal experience, many of us have begun developing a heightened appreciation of the dangers of sudden cardiac arrest. From unsuspecting student athletes to adults exhibiting no apparent warning signs, far too many individuals suffer often-deadly emergencies of this type each year.

In an effort to boost awareness and take decisive steps to reduce fatalities, public officials and governmental bodies across the country have implemented laws mandating the presence of invaluable medical devices known as automated external defibrillators in public and other venues.

To the uninitiated who may ask “what is an AED,” the answer is simple. It is an accessible, portable tool which, when used correctly, can dramatically increase survival rates for what is otherwise an extremely dire situation.

Having AEDs present in times of sudden cardiac events can literally be a matter of life and death, and when a fatality occurs due to their preventable or even illegal absence, victims’ families have the right to seek compensation. A heart attack in public places lawyer can provide essential aid to families facing these circumstances.

Heart Function Fundamentals

When it comes to understanding what is an AED and the critical role one can play in a cardiac arrest victim’s chances of survival, it is helpful to gain a basic understanding of how the heart actually functions. The rhythm of the heart is controlled by a system of electrical impulses.

The traveling of these signals from the top to the bottom of the heart is what triggers the muscle contractions and circulation necessary for life. Each individual heartbeat is a result of the electrical process starting anew.

However, when the heart’s electrical system malfunctions in some way, arrhythmias, or irregular heartbeats, can develop. In some cases, these types of irregularities can cause the heart to cease the circulatory process, ultimately leading to sudden cardiac arrest.

Whether a particular case of cardiac arrest is due to ventricular fibrillation or ventricular tachycardia, the individual experiencing trauma can often be saved through the administration of an electrical shock via an AED in conjunction with the performance of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

How AEDs Work

An essential tool in preventing sudden cardiac death, the AED is a compact, portable medical device capable of delivering an electrical shock to the heart directly through the chest.

The rapidity of treatment facilitated by AEDs is of critical importance, given the fact that for each minute a victim of cardiac arrest does not receive this type of assistance, his or her chances of survival diminish by upwards of 10 percent. The fundamental functions of an AED are quite straightforward. Their integrated computers assess the victim’s heartbeat through electrodes attached to the skin to determine whether defibrillation is indicated.

If so, the machine will instruct the responder to depress the button which administers the electrical shock. The user of an AED will be guided throughout the entire process, eliminating the need for independent judgment and medical determinations.

For those trained in their operation, AEDs are very safe to use, and technological advances have rendered them exceptionally accurate in determining when shocking is appropriate and when it is not.

Because of their impressive effectiveness and ease of use, it is possible for non-medical laypeople in a broad array of public settings to make life-saving use of these invaluable instruments.

Legal Landscape Concerning AED Placement and Use

With sudden cardiac arrest posing a very real threat to thousands and thousands of Americans each day, legislators at all levels of government have been delving deeper into the questions of what is an AED and precisely where devices of this type need to be kept in order to reduce the number of preventable deaths.

The outcome of these inquiries have varied across jurisdictional lines, but depending on the locale, it may be necessary for AEDs to be maintained in publicly accessible venues such as:

  • Government offices and buildings
  • Concert halls
  • Airports and bus terminals
  • Shopping centers
  • Senior centers and nursing homes
  • Bars and restaurants
  • Doctors’ and dentists’ offices
  • Museums, zoos and theme parks
  • Golf courses and exercise gyms

When AEDs are legally required to be present and functional and the owners, operators or management of such locations fail in their duty to maintain such equipment, the consequences can be deadly. Under such tragic circumstances, victims’ families can contact a heart attack in public places lawyer, and they may be able to recover substantial financial compensation and the accountability to which they are entitled.

Advocacy in the Aftermath of Preventable Cardiac Death

There can be little doubt about the incredible potential of AEDs to prevent death due to sudden cardiac arrest, and the negligent absence of this live-saving device is something which can cause entire families to experience profound loss.

If a loved one sustained serious injury or died as the result of a missing or non-functioning AED, a heart attack in public places attorney with our firm stands prepared to help.