A question we get asked very often is “How many AEDs do we need in our facility?”. There is not one magic number, but there are guidelines and specific reasons why you may need more than one AED in your building.

Why you may need more than one AED

When someone experiences sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) they do not have very long to live. The reason is because a person who is experiencing SCA is in grave danger as their heart is no longer pumping blood to their organs. As a result, this person only has approximately 10 minutes to survive. This person’s chance of survival goes down by 10% per minute that defibrillation is delayed. After three minutes the person’s brain begins to die due to the lack of oxygen. Oxygen is carried by a person’s blood to their brain.

What do the experts recommend

The Heart and Stroke Foundation recommends a rapid collapse-to-shock goal of three minutes to give the victim the greatest chance of survival.

Recommendation

What this means is that you should have enough AEDs in your facility to allow someone to retrieve and have the AED started within 3 minutes. If you have multiple floors in your facility having one per floor is a good practice. If there is not enough room in your budget for the ideal number of AEDs don’t allow that to deter you from starting with as many as you can afford. Even starting with one is good. We recommend continuing to add units until you reach the ideal number. The sooner you can become fully equipped the better.

There are various provincial laws at different stages across Canada that will require certain numbers of AEDs to be in certain buildings. We expect that AEDs will become required in a manner similar to fire extinguishers before long.

Please do not wait to begin adding AEDs to your facility. With over 100 people per day dying of SCA in Canada we all need to act to stop people from dying needlessly simply because an AED was not readily available.