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Public Access Defibrillation (PAD)

Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) is the number one killer of people in the United States. Over 450,000 Americans a year die from this silent killer. Not surprisingly, OSHA identifies SCA as the number one killer in the workplace, as it is the cause of 15 percent of all workplace fatalities. By its very nature, SCA is completely unpredictable and can strike anyone at any time, often without regard to someone’s age or health. Tragically, 95 percent of SCA victims die before reaching the hospital. The chance of a SCA victim’s survival decreases by 10 percent for every minute that passes. To be effective, defibrillation treatment must be administered within the first few minutes of the arrest. The American Heart Association estimates roughly 50 percent could survive an arrest with prompt and proper treatment using an AED.

Increased survival rates are the primary reason hundreds of thousands of AEDs have already been deployed throughout the US workplaces and public areas. American University strives to create a safe environment for students, faculty, staff and visitors. 

As a result, a Public Access Defibrillation (PAD) program was instituted in early 2013. Additional information pertaining to AU’s PAD program can be found on this web page.

Public Access Defibrillation FAQ

American University has initiated a public access defibrillation (PAD) program. Automated external defibrillators (AEDs) are strategically placed throughout campus to assist in providing an optimal response time for a person experiencing cardiac arrest. AU provides training to AU community members on request.

Public access to defibrillation (PAD) means making AEDs available in public places were large numbers of people gather.

An automated external defibrillator (AED) is a computerized medical device that can check a person’s heart rhythm and advise when shock is needed. The AED uses voice prompts and lights to tell the rescuer the steps to take. AEDs are very accurate and easy to use. While there are several different brands, all of them apply the same basic steps.

Children over 55 pounds or over the age of 8 can be treated with a standard AED. For children under 55 pounds or age 8 and under, there is a pediatric key which will automatically change the settings for a child.

The AED Program Coordinator checks the AEDs Quarterly.

Yes, all AEDs perform daily, weekly and monthly self-maintenance. Daily, the devices will check the battery, the pads and ensure that the internal circuitry is in proper working order. If the device passes all self-tests, it is considered ready for use. If it does not pass the tests, your device will begin beeping. If your AED is beeping and/or displaying an error message contact the AED Program Coordinator at 202-885-2722 or

If you suspect someone is in cardiac arrest, you should activate the EMS System by:

  • On-Campus: University Police at 202-885-3636.
  • Off-Campus: Calling 911
  • Provide care to the victim according to their training and/or scope of practice. This may include CPR/AED to a victim until local EMS arrives and assumes care of the victim.
  • Other volunteers not directly assisting with the care of the victim should assist by providing crowd control, documentation, relieving tired rescuers or assisting in other appropriate ways.

Official documentation of an event where an AED was used will be completed by responders on the scene. The AED Program Coordinator may follow up with you for any questions.

  • Most Administrative / Academic buildings
  • University Police Vehicles
  • Jacobs & Cassell Fitness Centers
  • Child Development Center
  • Greenberg Theater