Objective: We assessed the familiarity of the general public with automated external defibrillators (AEDs) and their willingness to use them.
Methods: Shoppers were asked to complete a survey in an AED-equipped suburban shopping mall.
Results: 359 surveys were analyzed. Of the participants, 11% were healthcare professionals, 51% had training in CPR or first aid, and 44% had no medical training. Sixty percent were able to define defibrillator adequately. Seventy-one percent stated they would be likely to use an AED to resuscitate a stranger. The most common concerns were fear of using the machine incorrectly (57%) and fear of legal liability (38%). After being told of liability protection from the federal Cardiac Arrest Survival Act, 84% stated they would be likely to use the AED. This increased further to 91% if the participants were given an opportunity to receive training.
Conclusion: Although a substantial number of people in this setting were willing to use an AED, education regarding legal liability and proper use of the machines increased the reported likelihood of use. Further public education may be necessary to provide optimally effective public access defibrillation programs.