This section has been reviewed and updated as needed: August 2014

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and its Department of Environment, Health and Safety (EHS) are committed to the health and safety of its students, faculty, staff and visitors. Due to technological improvements and lower costs, automated external defibrillators (AEDs) may now be safely acquired, installed and used by University departments to save victims of sudden cardiac arrest. An AED is used to urgently diagnose and treat ventricular fibrillation. An AED is attached to a victim’s chest to assess the heart’s rhythm. If appropriate, the device will recommend that a shock be delivered to resume a safe rhythm for the victim’s heart. When delivered, a metered electrical charge restores the heart’s functionality and often saves the victim’s life.

AEDs are most successful when their first shock is delivered within 3-4 minutes of sudden cardiac arrest onset. Thus, it is important that AEDs are installed where they are most likely to be needed – and in highly visible, easily accessible locations – so that trained personnel can find and access them in a timely manner. Because of their ease of use and built-in safeguards, untrained bystanders have successfully used an AED, but they are intended for use by trained personnel [AED training offered by the American Red Cross and the American Heart Association includes recognition of cardiac arrest symptoms, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and the proper use of an automated external defibrillator]. Because they are highly effective, AEDs are becoming more widespread.

The goal of this Policy is to ensure that AEDs installed on campus are safely maintained and used, and to promote training and easy access to installed AEDs. University departments and other administrative units may choose to acquire an AED. If they do, they must comply with this Policy. Departments that acquire an AED must designate a responsible person, whose duties are described below.

North Carolina law allows for the use of an AED during an emergency for the purpose of attempting to save the life of another person who is, or who appears to be, in cardiac arrest. Accordingly, North Carolina law also expressly provides immunity from civil liability for those who obtain and maintain AEDs, and those who use such devices to attempt to save a life. Specifically, North Carolina General Statute Section 90-21.15, provides for two classes of persons or entities who are exempt from civil liability related to the procurement and maintenance of AEDs:

  • The person or entity that provides the cardiopulmonary resuscitation and AED training to a person using an AED.
  • The person or entity responsible for the site where the AED is located when the unit has provided for a program of training.

Thus, if a University administrative unit acquires and maintains an AED, the University is exempt from civil liability related to the use of the device to save a life. In addition, North Carolina General Statute Section 90-21.14 provides that the person who uses an AED to attempt to save or to save a life shall be immune from civil liability unless the person was grossly negligent or intentionally engaged in wrongdoing when rendering the treatment.

Departments and other administrative units who acquire an AED (i.e., AED Owners) are responsible for maintaining the device to the standards of its manufacturer, the programmatic standards of the American Heart Association or the American Red Cross, and this Policy. AED owners must:

  • Designate a person who is responsible for management of the AED (i.e., departmental responsible person).
  • Ensure that inspections and maintenance is conducted in a timely manner and in accordance with written user and service manuals provided by the manufacturer.
  • AED Owners are responsible for the purchase of batteries and other supplies.
  • AED Owners are responsible for changing batteries, when indicated.
  • Providing or arranging for training and refresher training in AED use for their staff.
  • Notify EHS of any AED installations.
  • Allow easy access to the AED by students, faculty, staff and visitors who are in the vicinity.
  • Maintain on-site records, inspections, training, and other supporting documentation.
  • In the event of use, the AED can go with the patient to the hospital, and the device is returned to the site with consumable supplies replenished by the site.
The following records must be maintained on site:

  • Guidelines for use.
  • Manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Written self-inspection records.
  • Training records, including a description of the training program.
  • The identity of the department’s responsible person.
EHS will assist departments and responsible persons in managing AEDs on campus. To do so, EHS will:

  • Maintain a list of AEDs on campus as well as their locations. This list will also be provided to the University’s 9-1-1 Center. As required, EHS will also submit Public Access Defibrillators to the University’s annual AED report to the North Carolina Office of Emergency Medical Services, and Orange County Emergency Management.
  • Encourage the responsible person and the building Emergency Coordinator to promote easy access and training for staff.
Contact EHS for additional guidance and information.
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