Automated external defibrillators (AED) can be a lifesaver in an emergency.
Meant to assist in the event of cardiac arrest until first responders arrive, the devices have found their way into schools, gyms and other businesses throughout Yankton.
However, like any piece of equipment, extended time idling in their boxes can render the devices useless.
Yankton County Emergency Medical Services (EMS) is seeking to make sure that scenario doesn’t come to fruition. As part of EMS Week, the service is set to host its fifth annual AED checkup Friday, May 25, from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. at the EMS station at 805 Capitol St.
Yankton County EMS head Steve Hawkins told the Press & Dakotan that EMS will give each AED a thorough inspection.
“People can bring public access AEDs in and we’ll check them over and check expiration dates,” Hawkins said. “If things need to be replaced, we’ll try to get you the information for pads and batteries so you can purchase those. We also inspect the machine to make sure all of the other equipment that one may need to have is there, stocked and ready to be used in the event it needs to be.”
Even when it isn’t being used, Hawkins said that time sitting around does no favors to some of the machine’s most vital components.
“The defibrillator pads that are placed on the patient’s chest have an expiration date — most of that has to do with the adhesive that is used,” he said. “The batteries themselves are non-rechargeable. After a certain time sitting in the machine, they discharge and can’t deliver the shock that’s needed.”
He said components in an AED have a lifespan of 2-4 years, depending on what they are.
Hawkins said Yankton County EMS tends to check around 15-20 AEDs at the annual event.
Additionally, Hawkins said it’s well-documented that AEDs provide an advantage when they’re working properly.
“The American Heart Association, through their studies, has determined that early CPR and availably of AEDs to patients that are in cardiac arrest is the main reason for survival,” he said. “Knowing CPR and having public access to AEDs that are able to be deployed prior to EMS arrival are crucial to the survivability of patients in cardiac arrest.”
As a result, he said regular inspections like Friday’s are vital.
“(It’s important) to make sure the machine is ready and operational and ready to do its job if or when the time comes,” he said.
Anyone who is unable to attend Friday’s inspection event is encouraged to call Yankton County EMS at 668-9033 to schedule an inspection visit.
Follow @RobNielsenPandD on Twitter.