An automated external defibrillator (AED) is essential for construction teams and contractors. Consider that there are more than 350,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrest in the U.S. every year, nearly 1,000 of which happen in the construction industry. About 90% of these cardiac arrests are fatal because of delayed emergency services.
An AED guides you through both CPR and defibrillation, ensuring that you can immediately respond in the event of a sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) emergency on your job site. These devices save lives, but it’s important to choose the right one.
How to Choose the Best AED for Construction
While any FDA-approved AED can be an asset, certain qualities are especially important in a construction AED:
- Ease of use
- An excellent IP rating
- A long-lasting battery
- A long-lasting warranty
Ease of Use
Ease of use is important if you oversee a construction team. You never know who will be tasked with responding in an emergency, and there’s an excellent chance that the responsibility might fall into the hands of someone with little to no first aid or life support training.
The good news is that most AEDs are designed to be intuitive and easy to use. While you should probably avoid a model specifically tailored to the needs of emergency professionals (like the ZOLL AED Pro or the Defibtech Lifeline ECG, for instance), you should be safe with almost any other ZOLL, Defibtech, Philips, Physio Control, Cardiac Science, or HeartSine model on the consumer market.
You just need a trusted device that’s equipped with audible step-by-step voice coaching and easy-to-place pads (each pad should contain a clear placement diagram). If you’re looking for maximum peace of mind, you might also invest in a fully automatic model that delivers any necessary shocks without user intervention. The following models are available in fully automatic (as well as semi-automatic) configurations:
- Cardiac Science Powerheart G3 Plus
- Cardiac Science Powerheart G5
- Defibtech Lifeline
- LIFEPAK CR2
- ZOLL AED 3
- ZOLL AED Plus
An Excellent IP Rating
The construction site is the classic example of a rugged work environment, and so it demands a rugged AED. For starters, your device must be protected against penetration from moisture, dust, and solid objects. Developed by the International Electrotechnical Commission, the Ingress Protection rating (or IP rating) is an internally accepted standard that measures precisely these types of protection.
The IP rating contains two digits. The first digit (ranging from 0 to 6) refers to the amount of protection from dust and solid objects. The second digit (ranging from 0 to 9) refers to the level of protection against liquids. Higher numbers mean greater protection.
Every FDA-approved AED has an IP rating. Most devices are rated between IP54 to IP56. IP56 is currently the highest rating you’ll find with a portable defibrillator, and in a harsh environment like a construction or work site, we recommend choosing a device that meets this unparalleled standard.
Currently, there are three popular AEDs that have a rating of IP56:
IP56 means that the device offers some protection against dust ingress as well as protection against powerful water jets.
If you’d like to compare AEDs from other brands as well, the following models are rated a still-impressive IP55 (protection against dust ingress and water jets):
If your construction work requires you to keep the AED outdoors, bear in mind that the operating temperature, storage temperature, and relative humidity tolerance of your device should be able to accommodate the conditions where you operate. These requirements may be very different for a contractor in Phoenix, Arizona, than they would be for a contractor in Helena, Montana.
Most conventional AEDs have an operating temperature range of 32 °F to 122 °F (0 ºC to 50 ºC). This is suitable for most climates, but if you operate in an especially hot or cold environment, you’ll want to invest in a really good outdoor cabinet or case.
A Long-Lasting Battery
Teams and contractors can spend weeks or months on construction sites, so a long-lasting battery is paramount.
Most AEDs require battery replacement every two years, and those expiration dates can sneak up on you at the most inopportune moments. The less frequently you have to replace, the less you have to worry. The following AEDs have some of the longest-lasting batteries in the industry:
- HeartSine 300P/350P/360P/450P — The HeartSine Pad-Pak includes a battery and electrodes in one. You only have one expiration date to track, and it’s good for 4 years.
- ZOLL AED Plus/Pro — The lithium batteries and CPR-d-padz are good for 5 years.
- ZOLL AED 3 — The Uni-padz are good for a full 5 years.
You should always keep a spare battery and extra electrodes on hand in case of an emergency.
A Long-Lasting Warranty
Construction site AEDs can take a lot of abuse: from the weather, from physical objects, and just from being tossed around. To ensure the minimum cost of ownership and the maximum return on your investment, choose a device with a long warranty period.
While the warranty won’t cover negligence or general wear and tear, it can serve as a lifeline in the event that your device is unable to live up to the manufacturer’s specified operating capabilities.
The following automated external defibrillators are all warrantied for 8 years:
- Cardiac Science Powerheart G5
- HeartSine Samaritan PAD 350P
- HeartSine Samaritan PAD 360P
- HeartSine Samaritan PAD 450P
- LIFEPAK CR2
- Philips HeartStart OnSite
- Philips HeartStart FRx
The Department of the Army Technical Bulletin (TB MED 7) lists 8 years as the general life expectancy of a portable defibrillator. So by opting for a model with an 8-year warranty, you can help to ensure that your AED never dies before its time.
The Best AED for Contractors and Construction Teams
Given the parameters outlined above, we recommend the cost-effective HeartSine Samaritan PAD 350P and the HeartSine Samaritan PAD 450P for construction teams and contractors. Not only are they two of the lightest AEDs on the market (weighing just 2.4 pounds) but they offer some excellent features for the construction industry:
- MIL-STD 810F (military-grade) shock and drop resistance
- IP56 certification for water and dust resistance
- An operating temperature of 32°F to 122°F
- 5% to 95% relative humidity tolerance
- A 4-year pad and battery cartridge (twice the lifespan of your average AED battery)
- An industry-leading 8-year warranty
- Easy-to-follow voice and visual coaching through every step of CPR and defibrillation
- Simple two-button operation; anyone can use these AEDs confidently
- SCOPE biphasic technology that optimizes treatment according to the patient’s heart rhythm
The main difference between the 350P and the 450P is that the 450P is upgraded with real-time CPR rate feedback. For maximum assurance and ease of use, you can’t go wrong with the 450P.
No matter what type of AED you purchase, the important thing is that you invest in one of these life-saving devices. Hopefully you’ll never need to use it, but if you do, you don’t want to be caught without it on the construction site.