Most states require—or at least encourage—AED owners and expected users to become certified so that they will be ready in the event of a cardiac arrest emergency. Getting certified is easy. The class usually takes about 3 hours for a new certification, and the certification generally needs to be renewed every two years.
How to Become AED-Certified
AED certification is obtained through a state- or nationally recognized AED training course, such as those offered by the Red Cross or American Heart Association.
Training those expected to use an AED in cardiopulmonary resuscitation and AED use is mandatory in some states and encouraged in others. Certification programs typically include both skills—either with or without general first aid.
In order to maintain a valid certificate, expected users should attend refresher training every two or three years and provide a copy of their certificate of completion to the institution where the defibrillator is kept. The availability of digital certificates makes this process much easier nowadays. Whether or not your state imposes AED training requirements, formal training is highly recommended.
Who Can Provide AED Certification Training?
The American Heart Association and American Red Cross are the most widely accepted providers as far as CPR and AED training go. However, many states also accept any equivalent program from any nationally recognized organization.
Before booking training for yourself or your staff, find out which programs your state and/or association accepts.
Other Essential Requirements of an AED Program
For institutions, AED program requirements may include the requisite training courses as well as:
- Physician oversight for the AED program
- Registration of the device with the local emergency medical services and/or healthcare providers
- Clear labeling and signage for each AED
- Regular maintenance of AEDs and replacing the pads and devices before they expire
You can view a complete list of AED requirements by state on our website. But whether or not your state requires these steps, they are all responsible measures to take. The easiest way to stay in compliance and keep your device emergency-ready is to invest in AED program management.
AED programs in many states require physician oversight. This means that a licensed medical doctor must sign their name to the program and ensure that the institution meets the AED certification requirements. They may:
- Provide a medical prescription for the defibrillator(s)
- Review policies and procedures relating to AED use
- Provide advice on the placement of the AED(s)
- Ensure adequate training for expected AED users
- Provide consultation after an event
As part of a community of professionals, the supervising physician or medical director may also be able to help you connect with the local emergency medical services to register the device and report an event.
Registering the Device
AED certification requirements in several states include registering the defibrillator with your local emergency medical services and/or on a state-wide register. The purpose of this is to reduce the response time to medical emergencies that occur in public locations.
According to the American Heart Association, defibrillation should be used within 3 minutes of a cardiac arrest. Registering your AED with the local EMS could help cardiac arrest victims nearby receive life-saving care in those first few critical minutes.
Clear Labeling and Signage
Automated external defibrillators can only increase survival rates if they are easy to find. To streamline access to defibrillation, some AED certification requirements include notices indicating the location of the AED and arrows that point to the AED.
Next to the defibrillator itself, there should be signs pointing to the AED and diagrams explaining how to use the device. In emergency situations outside of business hours, there may not be a trained responder available and a bystander may be called on to get the device.
There would be nothing worse than purchasing a defibrillator to provide emergency care, only to discover that it’s out of date and the battery has failed. To prevent this situation, AED certification requirements state that the devices must be checked regularly to ensure that they work.
In addition to checking the device each month, it’s also a good idea to set reminders a few months before the battery or pads are due to expire. Some providers send out reminders (and even replacement parts) automatically so your AEDs are always good to go.
AED Program Management
Keeping up with AED certification requirements can be stressful—especially if your organization spans several states that may have different standards in place.
To streamline things as much as possible, it’s usually best to hold all of your locations to the AED program standards set in the most stringent state where your organization operates. This will ensure a consistent customer and staff experience and make your AED programs more effective.
If you’re finding that you’re struggling to keep up with the requirements, consider third-party AED program management. This kind of program will ensure that you’re always compliant with the law and free up your OSHA personnel to focus on other health and safety issues.
While it takes effort to remain compliant with AED laws and requirements, this effort could literally save lives.
Take the time to review the AED certification requirements in your state and update your policies or training program as needed. It only takes a few hours to get certified, and chances are, there’s a program near you offering classes this week. In some cases, you can even complete the required course online.
Sudden cardiac arrest could affect anyone at any time, and your organization needs to be ready.