AEDs — Setting a Future Course for Camps

by Lawrence D. Newell, Ed.D., NREMT-P

Looking Back

The May 2001 issue of The CampLine first addressed the issue of the need for Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) in camps. At that time there were a number of unresolved issues. Now, two years later, there may finally be enough information to resolve these issues that may have been left unresolved or delayed to another year.

Who’s Using AEDs?

Only a few years ago, the main question being asked was, “Who’s using AEDs?” The question today is more likely to be phrased as “Who’s not using AEDs?”

In 1996, American Airlines first started to equip its airplanes with AEDs and train select flight attendants in their use. In 2002, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) ordered all airlines to start carrying AEDs for flights with at least one flight attendant and payload capacities of more than 7,500 pounds.

The Disney Corporation is one of the nation’s largest private automated external defibrillator (AEDs) users. Other large resorts such as Atlantis in Paradise Island, Bahamas also recently placed AEDs throughout its property.

Health Clubs
There are an estimated 30 million Americans attending health clubs in America. The American College of Sports Medicine and the American Heart Association have provided health clubs with guidelines that say they should provide AEDs if they:

  • have more than 2,500 members;
  • offer special programs for elderly or people with medical conditions; and
  • know that local EMS providers are likely to be five or more minutes away when needed.

Parks and Recreation Departments
The past few years have seen a significant rise in the number of city and county Parks and Recreation departments utilizing AEDs. These are not limited to just small districts. At the March 2003, National Recreation and Parks Association Aquatic Management School, over 90 percent of the aquatic supervisory personnel attending indicated that they had AEDs in their aquatic facilities.

In November 2002, the Food and Drug Administration encouraged widespread use of AEDs by approving the first “home AED.” Philips HeartStart Home Defibrillator is even available for purchase online through CVS Pharmacies.

Significant efforts have been made in recent years to get AEDs placed in schools:

  • In March 2002, the “Automatic Defibrillation in Adam’s Memory,” (ADAM Act), H.R. 389, unanimously passed the House of Representatives. This bill amends the Public Health Service Act to authorize use of certain grant funds to “establish an information clearinghouse that provides information to increase public access to defibrillation in schools.”
  • In May 2002, New York became the first state in the nation to require AEDs in schools.
  • As a result of Act 4 of 2001, Pennsylvania schools were entitled to free automated external defibrillators through the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

Staying Out of Trouble

Legal liability risks associated with early defibrillation programs are quite remote.


  • an AED used properly during cardiac arrest can only help;
  • organizations using AEDs have a lower liability risk than those that do not;
  • states have laws that help provide some immunity to individuals rendering emergency medical care; and
  • newer AEDs are both easy to use and difficult to misuse.

The failure to have an AED has been associated with an increasing number of lawsuits. A $2.5 million lawsuit was filed in May 2002, against Olmsted Falls, Ohio School District, which alleges that school officials did not make provisions to notify emergency personnel from their outdoor track and did not have an AED on school grounds.

Falling Prices

Just a few years ago people were paying $3,000 to $4,000 for AEDs, thinking they were good investments. Today, a good investment can cost you substantially less. The table below provides a closer look at costs of the most common AEDs.


AEDs—A Closer Look at Savings
Manufacturer Product Approximate Prices**
Access CardioSystems Access AED $1,285.00 (New)
Cardiac Science PowerHeart AED $2,465.00 (New)
Cardiac Science Survivalink First Save AED $2,380.00 (New)
$1,780.00 (Refurbished)
Medical Resources Laboratories JumpStart AED $1,995.00 (New)
Medtronic Physio-Control CR Plus $2,450.00
Medtronic Physio-Control Lifepak 500
Adult & Pediatric capable (additional costs)
$3,150.00 (New)
$2,465.00 (Refurbished)
Phillips Medical Systems HeartStart Home AED $2,295.00 (New)
Phillips Medical Systems Heartstart FR2
Adult & Pediatric capable (additional costs)
$2,995.00 (New)
Zoll AED Plus $1,870.00
**Prices vary according to available discounts, and inclusion/exclusion of cases, extra batteries, extra electrodes, ECG display, medical direction, and service plans. Wherever possible, the prices listed in this table reflect the price for the product, battery, and electrodes.

Where Does This Leave Camps?

While there are still no AED laws or regulations directed specifically at camps, organizations that are involved in camping, such as the YMCAs, have been placing AEDs in an increasing number of their aquatic facilities. With AEDs becoming more readily available, the potential exists for increased litigation for a failure to include an AED. With AED prices dropping, more products to choose from, and the possible consequences of living in our litigious society, the time for a camp to purchase an AED may be now. This is especially true of those camps in remote areas where medical response is delayed.

Originally published in the 2003 Spring issue of The CampLine.