Journal of Intensive and Critical Care Open Access

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AED Education: A Dilemma for Public Health and a Challenge for Critical Care Specialists

Paul Rega and Brian Fink

Objective: The proper management of out-of-hospital cardiac arrests (OHCA) includes proper CPR and early defibrillation with a public access AED (automated external defibrillator). However, the general public is largely ignorant of their role in OHCA. This behavior has resulted in only a minority of OHCA patients being successfully resuscitated and leaving the hospital neurologically intact. One particularly revealing study demonstrated that American college students not only were hesitant to employ an AED, they did not even know its location within their own campus. The purpose of this study was to ascertain whether this was true even among healthcare students in a healthcare academic environment.

Method: A local university population of students and faculty in nursing, medicine, public health, physician assistant, pharmacy, and biological sciences completed a survey which included not only the AED training and knowledge aspects, but also whether or not they knew the location of the nearest AED. A total of 553 participants (532 students and 21 faculty) agreed to participate and completed the anonymous IRB-approved survey.

Results: Of those that completed the survey, 89.5% received AED training, 55.3% within the prior twelve months. However, only 110 of those who received AED/ CPR education (19.9%) knew the location of the AED in the building where they received the majority of their education. This lack of knowledge crossed all the disciplines. It ranged from as low as 17.5% for medical students up to 22.5% for PA students. These data reached statistical significance.

Conclusion: Health professionals and the general public need to know not only how to use an AED but where the nearest one is located to actually save lives in the pre-hospital environment. Critical care specialists and intensivists are advised to work with the local public health infrastructure to ensure that AED/CPR training includes empowering the trainees to actively seek out AED locations at the more popular public venues in a community. Knowledge of CPR and defibrillator training alone are useless if the individual cannot find the device in a timely manner.