Automated external defibrillator deployment in high schools and senior centers

Prehosp Emerg Care. 2005 Oct-Dec;9(4):382-5. doi: 10.1080/10903120500253847.


Background: Policymakers with limited funds have been forced to make difficult decisions regarding which sites merit automated external defibrillators (AEDs). Guidelines have recommended that the allocation of AEDs be based largely on the site-specific risk of sudden cardiac death (cardiac arrest), with devices preferentially located at high-risk venues. However, there are limited data on whether such a strategy is being followed. The authors surveyed low-risk (schools) and high-risk (senior centers) venues to assess the availability of AEDs.

Methods: A random sample of 200 high schools was identified; 12 were excluded, resulting in a final sample of 188. Each was contacted to determine the number of students, number of teachers, availability of AEDs, and number of cardiac arrests during the 2001-02 academic year. For comparison, 20 licensed senior centers were surveyed to assess the availability of AEDs.

Results: Among 147 schools that responded to the survey, the mean student enrollment was 1,117 and the mean number of teachers was 58. There were three reported cases of cardiac arrest (2 students, 1 teacher), resulting in an annual incidence of cardiac arrest in a school of 2.1% (95% confidence interval [CI] 0.4%-5.7%). Thirty-seven schools (25%; 95% CI 18%-33%) reported having AEDs and 35 (27%) intended to purchase them. In contrast, among 20 senior centers, AEDs were available at two (10%; 95% CI 1%-32%), and the and there were four reported cardiac arrests (annual incidence 20%).

Conclusion: The availability of AEDs across different sites may not correspond directly to the risk of cardiac arrest at these sites.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Aged
  • Defibrillators / supply & distribution*
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Heart Arrest / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Schools*
  • Social Support