Automated external defibrillator (AED) utilization rates and reasons fire and police first responders did not apply AEDs

E. Brooke Lerner, Anthony J. Billittier IV, Mary M. Newman, William J. Groh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

10 Scopus citations


Objectives. To determine the rate at which fire and police first responders (FRs) apply automated external defibrillators (AEDs) and to ascertain reasons for not applying them. Methods. Twenty-one emergency medical services (EMS) systems whose FRs had been supplied with AEDs by a philanthropic foundation provided data for all out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA) patients. Data including the incidence of AED application and explanations for not applying AEDs were analyzed using descriptive statistics. Results. A total of 2,456 OHCAs were reported. AED application information was available for 2,439 patients and revealed that FRs had not applied AEDs to 1,025 patients (42%). Fire FRs were more likely than police FRs to have applied AEDs (relative risk 1.87, 95% confidence interval 1.65-2.12). Reasons for not applying AEDs were listed for 664 (65%) of the OHCA patients to whom AEDs had not been applied. The predominant reason the FRs did not apply an AED was that the transporting ambulance defibrillator had already been applied (74%). However, when response times for FRs and the transporting ambulances were compared for these OHCA patients, it was found that the transporting ambulances arrived after the FRs 23% the time, simultaneously with the FRs 45% of the time, and before the FRs only 32% of the time. Conclusion. Fire and police FRs did not apply AEDs to a significant number of OHCA patients. Use of the transport ambulance defibrillator was the primary reason given for not applying the FR AED. Given low AED application rates by FRs, future studies are needed to determine the characteristics of communities in which equipping FRs with AEDs is the most beneficial deployment strategy, and how to increase AED application by FRs in communities with FR AED programs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)378-382
Number of pages5
JournalPrehospital Emergency Care
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 1 2002


  • Automated external defibrillators
  • Defibrillation
  • Emergency medical services
  • Firefighters
  • First responders
  • Heart arrest
  • Police
  • Utilization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine
  • Emergency

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