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Minimizing the legal risk of an AED program

Are you taking the right steps to minimize your risk associated with maintaining an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) on site? As outlined in the ACA Accreditation Process Guide - Health and Wellness (HW) Standards for Camp Accreditation, camps need to determine what type of healthcare provider and healthcare plan and program are in the best interest of their clientele. Options are assessed and decisions made based on location, access to a higher level of care, program offerings, and the types of campers served and expected.

There are a variety of reasons why a camp might maintain an AED; and If your camp chooses to maintain one, it is important to understand how to minimize the risk associated with such a program. The following insight regarding minimizing the legal risk of an AED program is provided by Paula Wickham, president of Think Safe, Inc.

You cannot eliminate the risk, but you can control it and therefore minimize the potential for a lawsuit. Attention to the following 6 essential elements is critical to maintaining your civil liability immunity protection and minimizing risk.

Avoid cutting corners in any of these areas:

  1. Medical direction/oversight – From the time of AED purchase, your AED program and emergency response plans should update to allow integration. All AEDs need a prescription (Rx) to comply with FDA regulations. Oversight is much more than an AED Rx however. Many states require medical oversight (sign off on the AED program at a facility). 
  2. Approved training – Use a certified and nationally accredited training program vendor. Such organizations are: American Heart Association (AHA), Red Cross, ASHI, Medic First Aid, ECSI or IOHSA – some of which have quality, low-cost programs that integrate technology and provide instructors, or online components of training, or both.
  3. Local EMS notification – Establish a working relationship with your local EMS. Advise them of AED placements at your facility.
  4. Process/implementation – A process should be developed to ensure correct documentation is in place. Documentation should be standardized, and AED locations and information should be properly communicated to all involved. New hires should receive communication and procedures related to the AED program.
  5. Maintain equipment – Follow manufacturers’ and industry recommendations for maintaining AEDs and supplies. Use a checklist and assign an AED site coordinator to regularly inspect the device.
  6. Refresh - Give responders the opportunity to perform quarterly or monthly refreshers on skills by scenario training or online training refresher courses/quizzes.


The liability associated with the implementation of an AED program is minimal. Legal fears should not deter you from considering the benefits of having an AED at your organization, as long as the 6 essentials for compliance are in place. In fact, companies that carefully adopt and implement a safety program that includes AEDs are at lowest risk for liability. 

Think Safe, Inc. manufactures innovative products for injury management and develops resources to improve access to First Aid, CPR, and emergency medical training.

Think Safe, Inc. employees are technical experts in emergency readiness and First Aid, AEDs, and medical and environmental emergency response programs that help organizations comply with local, state and federal regulatory requirements. You can learn more about Think Safe, Inc. and the services they provide