PAD Program – Public Access Defibrillator

PAD Program – Public Access Defibrillator


AEDs are lifesaving devices designed to treat a person suffering from sudden cardiac arrest (SCA). An AED program should be a vital part of all local, state, and federal agency facilities. The Department of Health and Human Services and the General Services Administration (GSA) have developed guidelines  called “Guidelines for Public Access Defibrillation Programs in Federal Facilities” to aid in AED program implementations. Most notably,


The guidelines provide a general framework for initiating a design process for public access defibrillation (PAD) programs in Federal facilities and provide basic information to familiarize facilities leadership with the essential elements of a PAD program. The guidelines are not intended to exhaustively address or cover all aspects of AED or PAD programs. They are aimed at outlining the key elements of a PAD program so that facility-specific, detailed plans and programs can be developed in an informed manner.

The following article is written using the guidelines set forth in the above referenced document. It is not meant to replace the document, just to highlight the major considerations that should be made when setting up an Automated External Defibrillator program. For the most accurate and complete information on how to set up an AED program in a government facility, please refer to the Public Access Defibrillation Guidelines found on the Federal Occupational Health Web Site.

The first step in establishing an AED program in a government facility is to recruit personnel at your location who are willing and able to lead and who are willing to work with other local medical and emergency services. Establishing partnerships with these resources are essential to the success of your AED program.

The next step is to make sure that all those who will be directly affected by the planning of the AED program are involved; this includes those who don’t work within the building itself. This means that employees who most likely will be first responders in an SCA emergency need to be included in the planning stages. Also, in buildings where there are multiple tenants, special attention needs to be paid to whom is in charge of the AED program and the decision-making process needs to be clearly stated and put in written form. Confusion when emergency medical services are needed should be avoided to prevent an unnecessary death or permanent disability.

Government guidelines state that the only automated external defibrillators that can be used in a government facility are those that have been cleared by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Seeking the advice of an AED expert will ensure that your location has the right AED on hand in an emergency. If possible, seeking the advice of local EMS personnel in regards to placement, brand and protocols, is recommended. Also, keep in mind that a prescription from a physician supervising the placement of the AED, must be obtained before the AED can be ordered and delivered to the facility.


Automated external defibrillators are easy to use but proper training is required; therefore medical supervision of the AED program is essential. Having a physician as part of the planning and implementation process is important. This does not mean that a physician has to be present in case of an SCA emergency or that a medical doctor needs to be onsite on a daily basis, it just means that having prior medical oversight during the set up of the program and on a regular checkup basis is important when non-medical first responders will most likely be handling the emergency. It is also important to make sure that all federal, state and local laws and regulations are followed. Having legal counsel go over the AED program’s guidelines is recommended.

Devising a training program is one of the most important aspects of getting your AED program up and running. Having as many well-trained lay responders/rescuers (LRR) as possible is advised. Establishing a routine training schedule, perhaps quarterly, may be smart if the facility has a large population and/or attrition or turnover. Most AED manufacturers have training programs available with their AED units.

Deciding where to place the automated external defibrillators is another important consideration. Having an AED in a hard to reach place, or not having enough units reachable within a three minute window, can spell disaster when dealing with sudden cardiac arrest. The more time that passes between the onset of ventricular fibrillation and defibrillation, the greater the chances of brain damage or sudden cardiac death. The AED also needs to be placed low enough on a wall or in a cabinet so those who are shorter in height can easily reach it. Tamper resistant but easy open cases are important too. Preventing theft or misuse is vital. The AED should be well marked and its location frequently publicized to insure that everyone knows and remembers where it is located. A nearby telephone is recommended as well, so a 911 call can be easily made.


In addition to the AED, there are other pieces of equipment that should be placed with it or near it to aid in the rescue. Some of the recommended items are:

  • Simple directions for CPR and the use of the AED
  • Non-latex gloves
  • CPR face masks with detachable mouthpieces, plastic or silicone face shields, with one-way valves, or other type of barrier device that can be used in mouth to mouth resuscitation
  • Disposable razor to dry shave a victim in chest areas if needed, as well as a supply of 4×4 gauze pads to clear/dry an area, to assure proper electrode-to-skin contact
  • A pair of medium size bandage or blunt end scissors
  • Spare battery and electrode pads
  • Pad of paper and writing tools
  • Absorbent towels

After an SCA event has occurred, all essential AED program team members need to be notified and debriefed. Reviewing and assessing the situation and the performance of all those involved in the rescue needs to be completed in order to ensure that all emergency protocols were followed and to make sure that if any mistakes were made, that they are avoided in the next emergency. Restocking supplies and making sure the AED is ready for use immediately is important.

AED Brands can help you make sure that your AED program has the emergency supplies and basic life support items you need. Make sure that your government facility is prepared for emergency medical services, including sudden cardiac arrest, by shopping our wide array of automated external defibrillators and other emergency medical supplies.

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