Safety Library

Tips, Tutorials, and Checklists to help manage ministry risks

Setting up an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) Program


Being prepared for cardiac emergencies with an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) requires more thought than simply choosing a particular model and hanging it on the wall. You’ll need to consider whether you need more than one unit, where you’ll put it, and whom you’ll train to use it. Here are some points to consider:

  • Assess your church’s need. To determine how many AED devices will be needed and where they should be located, consider your church’s size and layout. If you have a large church and it will take EMS crews a long time to reach certain areas, you may wish to have additional AEDs in those areas. Areas behind secured doors, such as Sunday school or children’s areas, may also hinder EMS access.
  • Choose your response team. You’ll need to consider who will be responsible for AED use—church staff or volunteers. If you choose to use employees, will AED training become part of their job descriptions? Make sure that you have enough people to cover most situations in your church.
  • Make funding decisions. Determine how much money will be needed to purchase the equipment, train employees or volunteers, and provide program maintenance. Consider pursuing grants for full or partial funding.
  • Understand state legislation. You’ll also need to understand the current legal environment concerning AED use, as laws vary from state to state. However, all 50 states now have instituted AED good Samaritan provisions that provide certain legal protections to laypersons. (A summary is available on the American Heart Association’s Web site, www.americanheart.org.)
  • Arrange for training. Training in CPR and AED skills will give your church’s emergency response team a broader understanding of cardiac emergency care, greatly increasing the victim’s chances of survival. The American Red Cross is a good potential resource, offering half-day classes that include CPR and AED skills, as well as day-long sessions that also include first aid.

Download our AED Program Checklist >>