Automated External Defibrillators


Automated external defibrillators, or AEDs, are electronic devices designed to recognize cardiac arrhythmias and treat them through defibrillation, an electrical therapy shock which allows the heart to reestablish the proper rhythm. Modern AEDs are designed to only administer the shock if an abnormal rhythm is detected, and will prompt the user with step by step audible and/or visual cues.

AED AED sign

AED Locations

The UW Police Department (UWPD) carry AEDs in their vehicles at UW Seattle and all officers are trained in their use. While there are some exceptions, state and local law does not require AEDs be provided in buildings but departments may purchase their own. The University does not provide central funding for AED purchase or maintenance. Organizational units wishing to install one of these devices must budget for both the device and required maintenance.

EH&S Responsibilities

EH&S provides oversight to ensure the University complies with the provisions of RCW 70.54.310 including procurement, medical direction (instructions on use), registration, training, maintenance, and reporting use. EH&S maintains AED information on its website and serves as the point of contact to assist organizational units wishing to procure AEDs.

To locate the AED nearest your building, or if you have an existing AED and want to confirm it is in the University inventory, contact EH&S at 206-616-5530.

Procedures for Procuring an AED

Organizational units must designate an AED coordinator responsible for ensuring the specific procedures listed below are followed. For University facilities located outside of Seattle and King County, equivalent procedures must be followed. For assistance please call EH&S at 206-616-5530.


    Prior to procuring and placing an AED in service, obtain a prescription and medical direction from the Public Health Department -- Seattle & King County. A prescription is required and the vendor may ask to see your prescription before they will accept the order. Medical direction (instruction on AED use) is provided by Public Health as part of the packet you will receive in the mail with your registration.

    Exception: Philips products which have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to sell their AEDs without requiring a prescription.


    AEDs may be purchased through any University approved order method, including Procard, and are available through the Ariba Buying Portal. The prescription may be uploaded to the Ariba system if required by the supplier. Units are available through WA State Department of Enterprise Services at a discount of up to 30%.


    Register your device at the Public Health Department -- Seattle & King County. Enter “University of Washington” in the company field so that EH&S is able to periodically obtain an inventory of devices from Public Health to use in our oversight role.


    Most AEDs are designed to be used by a typical bystander or layperson and may be installed in public areas such as building lobbies. However, any University employees likely to use an AED are expected to receive training on the use of defibrillators. See the Seattle campus First Aid/CPR training schedules. For those outside the Seattle area, training may be available from your local fire department, the AED vendor, the American Red Cross, the American Heart Association, and other agencies.


    Establish a maintenance program for your AED(s). Check and maintain your device consistent with manufacturer’s guidelines. Chest pads are coated with a gel that breaks down over time, typically between 18 and 30 months depending on manufacturer. The battery life is limited and batteries will need replacing every 2 to 5 years. Since the shelf life of replacement parts vary by manufacturer, these costs should be evaluated when selecting a device.

    If used on a patient, the AED must be taken out of service until chest pads are replaced (the AED will make a chirping sound until the pads are replaced). The battery must be checked to ensure it still holds ample charge. DO NOT REMOVE the battery. This will erase all cardiac arrest data in the device. The unit may require decontamination if exposed to blood or other body fluids.


    Whenever the AED is opened and applied to a person, contact the King County Community AED Program Manager at 206-263-8317 (alt: 206-296-4693). This is a critical step for you to take in assisting the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) system to improve medical care and treatment from sudden cardiac arrest, and thus increase chances of survival.


    The AED coordinator must maintain the prescription (if required) medical direction, procurement paperwork, and maintenance records.

Recommended Maintenance Contracts

On the Seattle campus the UW Scientific Instruments group provides some maintenance services for AEDs. They can be reached at 206-543-5580. Scientific Instruments can provide needed maintenance checks, order supplies, and even provide a “loaner” device if a unit must be taken out of service. Tell them the AED was used and needs a download. EMS staff will arrange to come to your site to download the report from your device.

Recommended Devices

Select a device that has pre-market approval (PMA-510(k)) from the FDA. The American Heart Association endorses many products that have FDA approval. UW Scientific Instruments has replacement parts and experience maintaining Phillips products. Currently, UWPD uses Phillips HeartStart models. When considering a brand and model, consider ongoing maintenance and replacement part costs as well as the total cost of buying and maintaining your unit(s). Many companies produce quality AEDs.

Additional Resources and Helpful Links

Register an AED:

Frequently asked questions and training videos on the UW Learn AED site:

The University of Washington Administrative Policy Statement regarding AEDs:

The Washington State law regarding AEDs:

Red Cross:

American Heart Association:


View King County’s “Shockingly Simple” video:

AED grants:

FDA device approval information: