Automated External Defibrillator (AED) Maintenance

Check-ups can help ensure AEDs will work when needed

Automated external defibrillators (AEDs) have saved the lives of many people who suffered heart attacks at church. Most of the time, however, they sit idle. It’s important for someone to regularly check your ministry's defibrillators, so they're ready to go when minutes matter.

Let’s say your church has bought an automated external defibrillator (AED) and trained volunteers how to use it. Once installed, this life-saving device could go unused for long periods of time. Does anyone in your ministry check to make sure that it will work when needed?

AEDs Require Maintenance

An AED is a computerized medical device that can deliver an electric shock to restart a person’s heart. It’s designed to allow bystanders to respond to a cardiac emergency.

While easy to use, AEDs contain parts that may need occasional service. It’s important that you designate someone to conduct routine maintenance checks on any AEDs within your ministry. Without someone in charge, this duty may fall into the cracks.

The designated person in your ministry would also likely be the one to:

  • Inventory and reorder supplies
  • Follow up with the manufacturer on maintenance issues
  • Schedule training and retraining

General Recommendations

While specific requirements vary by manufacturer, here are some basic procedures for an inspection that can keep your AED ready to respond in a heartbeat.

Daily: Some units have a status indicator light you can check daily as you walk by the AED. Green indicates readiness; red indicates a problem.

Monthly or Annually:

  • Visually inspect your AED. Look for dirt, damage, or contamination.
  • Inspect electrodes. All electrodes (sticky pads) should be unexpired and in their original, sealed packages. It's good to have at least two sets for adults and one set for children.
  • Test primary battery. Some models feature a “test” button. On models without one, push the “on” button. If the unit prompts you to attach the electrodes, the battery’s working properly.
  • Test backup battery. Make sure a backup battery is stored with the AED. This is crucial, because defibrillation can deplete the primary battery. Test the secondary battery by removing the primary battery and following the same process as you did with the first one.
  • Keep it charged. Keeping an AED plugged into the wall when it’s not being used helps keep the primary battery from losing its charge over time. It’s especially important for devices that sit idle for long periods.
  • Check data card. Some models record information about the cardiac arrest on a removable computer data card. Make sure a functioning card is installed.
  • Stock secondary supplies. Some items that are helpful to stock in your AED kit include alcohol prep pads, razors, gloves, scissors, and a small towel or cloth. Electrodes require a good connection to function, so you may need to clean the person’s skin or trim thick chest hair.

It may be helpful to complete a checklist during each inspection. This helps you remember to complete each task and provides a record of what maintenance was done. Download our AED Maintenance Checklist and customize according to your AED manufacturer’s recommendations.

Learn More

Use these resources for more information about AED programs:

American Heart Association: AED Programs Q&A 

National Heart Lung and Blood Institute: How to Use an Automated External Defibrillator