AED training requirements have been established in several states to make AED use more effective. Typically, this instruction is required for people who are likely to be present during an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest. AED training covers CPR techniques as well as the correct use of an external defibrillator. If your business, institution, or facility has an automated external defibrillator, you need to be familiar with:
- Why AED training is important
- The specific AED training requirements in your state
We have broken down the basics to help you better understand the expectations.
Why AED Training Is Important
Every year, out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA) affects over 356,000 Americans and is fatal unless live-saving techniques are used within minutes. Because the death toll of OHCA is so high, the American Heart Association and other national organizations recommend the implementation of public access defibrillator (PAD) programs with training for anticipated responders.
While most states provide some level of legal immunity for defibrillator use under Good Samaritan laws, it makes sense to include training as part of effective AED program management. Not only do participants learn how to recognize the signs of cardiac arrest and use the AED correctly, but they also learn cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), which must be used along with the portable defibrillator to maintain circulation until emergency services arrive.
AED Training Requirements by State
In 2017, a report was produced by the Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention (Center for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC) outlining state-by-state PAD policies. At the time of reporting, 45 out of 50 states required AED training for anticipated responders, with 30 states listing AED training as a recommended requirement for graduation from middle school, high school, or an unspecified grade level.
While laws and policies are constantly changing, here are some examples of state-based AED training requirements:
Expected Users Must Be Trained
The expected users of an automated defibrillator are defined as the people who are most likely to perform external defibrillation on a sudden cardiac arrest victim. In an organization, these are often employees who are present during normal operating hours and express an interest in being trained. The main building owner, office manager, coach, or other facilitator may also be considered an expected user, in charge of not only the management and placement of AEDs but also their use.
In most states, a person or entity that acquires a defibrillator must ensure that expected users receive training in CPR and AED use as part of a course provided by the American Red Cross, American Heart Association, or another nationally recognized organization. The trainee may also need to provide evidence of completion.
The states that have this requirement are listed below, along with variations in the accepted provider:
- Alabama: as above
- Alaska: American Red Cross, American Heart Association, or Department of Health and Social Services
- Arizona: Heart Saver AED course or an equivalent
- Arkansas: A course in CPR and AED use that is based on current American Heart Association standards
- California: unspecified
- Colorado: a course that meets national standards
- Delaware: as above or through the Delaware State Fire School
- District of Columbia: as above. The certification must be kept up to date.
- Florida: unspecified
- Georgia: as above
- Hawaii: unspecified
- Idaho: as above
- Illinois: as above
- Iowa: To obtain certification as a public access defibrillator provider, an individual must obtain training that includes:
- Adult CPR (including one-rescuer CPR)
- Foreign body airway obstruction
- Rescue breathing
- Recovery position
- Activating the EMS system
- AED use
- Kansas: unspecified
- Kentucky: as above
- Louisiana: as above
- Maryland: legal requirements are set by the EMS board
- Massachusetts: as above
- Mississippi: as above, plus the National Safety Council
- Missouri: as above
- Montana: a course that is approved by the department
- Nebraska: the course must meet Department of Health and Human Services Regulation and Licensure guidelines
- Nevada: as above
- New Hampshire: unspecified
- New Jersey: The training must be kept current.
- New Mexico: as above
- New York: as above, plus courses offered by the state Emergency Services Council
- North Dakota: as above
- Ohio: as above
- Oklahoma: a national or state-approved course
- Oregon: unspecified
- Pennsylvania: as above or a course approved by the Department of Health
- Rhode Island: as above
- South Carolina: as above plus the National Safety Council
- Tennessee: training courses approved by the department
- Texas: courses given or approved by the Texas Department of Health
- Utah: unspecified
- Vermont: American Heart Association or American Red Cross
- Virginia: a course approved by the Board of Health
- Washington: a course approved by the Department of Health
- West Virginia: as above or a course approved by the Office of Emergency Medical Services
- Wisconsin: as above or recognized by the Wyoming Department of Health and Family Services, refreshed every two years
Licensed Physician Oversight Is Required to Ensure Compliance
In the following states, a physician who is licensed in that state must provide medical oversight to the automated external defibrillator or PAD program and ensure that the AED training requirements are met:
- New Mexico
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
*In Louisiana, an advanced practice registered nurse can also fulfill this requirement.
Only Trained Users Are Allowed to Use an AED
Some states limit the use of external defibrillators to individuals who have been trained in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and the use of defibrillators.* In these states, it is especially important to ensure a trained person is onsite during all normal operating hours as anyone else who uses the medical device may not have full exemption from liability:
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- Rhode Island
*Note that this rule generally applies only to expected users as described above. Lay responders who act in an emergency will still have some degree of civil liability protection in most cases.
Other AED Training Requirements
Several states have specific AED training requirements that affect schools, businesses, health services, health clubs and fitness facilities, public pools, federal buildings, and other public buildings. Be sure to find out about AED laws in your state to ensure that your training program complies.
California: One employee must be trained in AED use for the first five AEDs acquired. Schools that acquire an AED for medical emergencies must designate trained employees to be available to operate the AED during normal operating hours. (Assembly Bill 254  [Amended in 2006])
Illinois: The State Board of Education is required to administer a matching grant program to pay half of the cost of training teachers and school personnel who are interested in CPR and AED certification. (House Bill 1058 )
Assisted living facilities, nursing homes, and health-related institutions have specific staff training requirements. (The New Jersey Bill, S2146)
K-12 schools are required to have at least five employees who are certified in CPR and AED use. (Janet’s Law)
New York: There must be an AED and staff person trained in AED use present for curricular and extracurricular activities conducted at any public school facility and at all school-sponsored athletic programs conducted offsite. (New York Education Law § 917)
Oregon: Entities that have an AED must have enough trained employees so that a trained employee will be onsite during all normal business hours. Campsites must ensure a trained AED user for camps of more than three consecutive nights.
For additional resources on AED laws, be sure to refer to our blog. We also have a nationwide Instructor Network available, so if you’d like to get started with your own training protocols, we invite you to check out our AED Training page. We offer courses in CPR, AED, First Aid, Stop the Bleed, and more. All of our courses are affordable and taught by seasoned industry professionals.
Emergency Readiness Is About Keeping Your Organization Up to Date
As AED training requirements vary significantly by state, it’s essential to stay abreast of your local laws and updates that could affect your organization. Some states will not provide immunity from civil damages if the expected user of the external defibrillator has not been trained. Your organization could lose its AED certification and face legal liability.
To ensure full compliance with state and local laws, start by keeping an FDA-approved AED (one that has received premarket approval from the Food and Drug Administration) in a central location at all times. Finally, consider an integrated approach to AED program management that keeps your employees up to date. Not only will you avoid a lot of legal liability, but you and your employees will also be much better prepared to restore someone’s heart rhythm and save their life.