Planning Framework for Developing a Departmental AED Plan

April 05, 2011

Lari Bangert
Associate Director, Operations
Campus Recreation
Colorado State University

Developing an effective AED plan requires identifying and addressing several key issues. The following framework, adapted from the university-wide process we used at Colorado State, will help you develop a comprehensive AED plan specific to your department. Visit and click on the jumping heart for more information on Colorado State’s program.

The first critical step is to establish a broad-based committee whose primary task is to develop and implement the AED plan. In addition to Campus Recreation department staff, consider including other university personnel (e.g. Environmental Health Services, Athletics, Security, Risk Management, University Legal Office), and off-campus experts.

Involving local emergency medical services (EMS) from the start is a must, and avoids potential issues down the road. Most EMS groups are happy to give guidance on equipment choice, placement, training, and in some cases, medical oversight. Some states require physician oversight on AED programs — and local hospitals or University Health centers, if involved in the plan, may provide this service.

Once the committee is established, the following key components of the AED program planning phase need to be addressed:


Identify and prioritize buildings and placement of AED units. This involves developing criteria for location selection e.g.

  • Heavy traffic areas
  • Types and age of people using specific areas
  • High-risk activity areas
  • Proximity to other AED units
  • Emergency personnel response time

Since it may not be economically feasible to purchase all AED’s at the same time, high risk buildings or areas should receive top priority for AED placement, based on the criteria developed.

The committee needs to determine the type of AED program to be implemented — whether it is to be ‘secured’ or ‘bystander accessible’.

  • If secured, this means that only identified, trained staff have access to AED’s.
  • If bystander accessible (the direction Colorado State chose), the security of AED units needs to be determined. While most units have an audible alarm storage cabinet option (an alarm goes off when the unit is removed), consider a hardwired alarm system which directly notifies police or EMS when the AED is removed.

It is critical to work with local Emergency Response personnel on equipment selection since they will likely have concerns about compatibility with their own equipment:

  • Discuss AED unit and AED software compatibility with EMS and the local hospital (software allows reading the AED unit after the incident).
  • Discuss concerns surrounding HIPA, documentation, reviewing records from incident, etc.

The next step involves researching types and manufacturers of AED equipment. Work with representatives from different manufacturers:

  • Review auto-shock vs. manual-shock models
  • Determine if unit is to be monophasic vs. biphasic
  • Ensure that AED units and AED training units meet new CPR/AED standards developed by American Red Cross and American Heart Association.
  • Test pilot units with group of students, staff and faculty for ease of operation, clear voice prompts, etc.

The following list identifies some of the training issues to be resolved by the committee:
– Identify level of training to be offered (Community, Workplace, Professional Rescuer)
– Identify type of training (Certification or Education/no certification)
– Set training schedule

  • Full classes (for those with no CPR/ AED training)
  • Refresher or renewal classes

– Identify instructors

  • Ensure all instructors hold current certification with American Red Cross, American Heart or other reputable agency.
  • Decide if you are going to pay instructors or use volunteer instructors. Consider the use of student vs. professional staff as instructors.
  • Tap into existing instructor pools that already exist on campus: Campus Recreation, Health Center, Environmental Health, Exercise Science, Athletics.

– Determine if classes are to be revenue based or a public service i.e. will classes help fund the program or will class fees be kept to a minimum.

The initial and ongoing financing of the AED program requires careful and realistic planning. In determining how the program will be funded, explore funding options through grants, university safety funds, and other departmental options. Also consider the following:
– Purchase AED’s in phases

  • In addition to the cost of individual AED units, batteries and pads need to be replaced on a regular basis. Hence a large number of units purchased at the same time can create a significant expense.

– Plan for AED training units, extra pads and batteries, manikins, gloves, storage units and on-going expenses (e.g. training).
– Consider buying a back-up unit (after an incident in which the AED unit is deployed, the unit usually accompanies the victim to the hospital).

Someone in the department needs to be responsible for administering the AED Plan. In addition to the day-to-day responsibilities, the following needs to be incorporated:
– Coordinating the plan with outside responders (e.g. EMS).
– Determining who is responsible for inspections and maintenance of AED units (including how often should they be inspected and where documentation will be stored).
– De-mystifying the ‘scary’ factor of AED’s for clients (and some staff). Consider implementing a communication campaign to explain AED’s and the department AED program.
– Establishing a protocol on who will take AED unit to the hospital if EMS remove your AED and use their own. (Hospital staff will still want to review information from all units used during incident.)

Following this simple planning framework will assist you in the development of a comprehensive AED plan — at the department or university level. Once key components are identified and addressed, you are well on your way to creating a much safer environment for everyone.

For more information on our Online Courses,
contact us now!