Essential AED Placement Locations: A Guide to Enhancing Safety and Accessibility in Public Places - American Hospital Supply

Essential AED Placement Locations: A Guide to Enhancing Safety and Accessibility in Public Places

Staff Editor ·

 Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) can strike anyone, anywhere, and at any time. According to the American Heart Association, over 350,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests occur annually in the United States alone. Studies show that the survival rate for SCA victims drastically increases when an automated external defibrillator (AED) is used within the first few minutes.

American Hospital Supply (AHS) knows that quick access to an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) can be the difference between life and death during a sudden cardiac arrest emergency. That's why proper AED placement and ensuring these life-saving devices are accessible are crucial.

While having AEDs on site is crucial, they're only effective if they can be quickly located and deployed by trained responders during a crisis. This guide provides essential information to help facilities determine the optimal number and placement of AEDs to maximize their life-saving potential.

What is an AED?

An AED is a sophisticated yet easy-to-use portable device that analyzes the heart's rhythm and delivers an electric shock through adhesive pads to restore an effective rhythm during sudden cardiac arrest. With voice and visual prompts, AEDs are designed for bystanders to help sustain life until emergency responders arrive.

Determining AED Placement Locations

It is advised that adequate AED coverage is provided so that the device can be recovered and used in every likely event location in three to five minutes to maximize survival rates from SCA. Essential elements to consider while figuring out your facility's AED placements are:

  • Physical layout and size of buildings/areas
  • Number of occupants/visitors in each area
  • Density and traffic flow of people
  • Response time estimates for staff/security
  • High-risk area identification

AED Location Requirements

Place AEDs where they're easy to see and grab fast during a sudden cardiac arrest. Think front-and-center spots in public buildings, like right by the entrance or in the lobby, and outside places close to sports fields or playgrounds. Proper placement of AEDs is crucial to ensure they are readily accessible in emergencies.

Although there aren't any federal rules requiring the placement of AEDs in the USA, there are some state-specific regulations and strong guidelines to follow. Some of the helpful considerations include:

  • Accessibility: AEDs should be easy to find and grab quickly during emergencies. This means placing them in high-traffic areas with clear visibility, not in storage rooms.
  • Response Time: Ideally, anyone in the building should be able to reach an AED within 3 to 5 minutes of a cardiac arrest. This means placing multiple devices in large buildings or strategically positioning them depending on the layout.
  • Visibility: Clear signage is crucial. So, AED location signs with universal AED symbols should point towards the device's location.

Where is it mandatory to place an AED?

In the USA, some states have passed laws for where AEDs must be installed, which events must include AEDs and the necessary AED signage. A few examples can be found in the chart below. The chart below is for illustrative purposes only. We recommend you contact local subject authorities for more information.


Location Requirement

Signage Requirement


Health spas: Easily accessible to staff, members, and guests in plain view.

Must have a sign indicating location and instructions for use.


Instructions for use must be posted next to AEDs installed in buildings.

Instructions for use must be posted next to the AED.


Higher education athletic programs: Central location within a quarter-mile of each used premise.

Must make the AED's location known and accessible to employees and student-athletes.


Within 300 feet of an outdoor physical fitness facility, ensuring unimpeded access.

Signs directing from the entrance to the AED.


Health clubs: Easily accessible on the premises.

Sign explaining use and CPR steps, and a sign at each entrance indicating AED location.


Health clubs: Location that ensures apparent and ready accessibility.

Not specified.

New York

Not specified.

A sign at the main entrance describes the AED location.


Educational facilities: Close to the primary location where students engage in athletic activities.

Not specified.



Even if it's not required by law, having clear and noticeable signs is essential for quick access to an AED in an emergency. It's wise to follow national guidelines for where to place AED signs.

AED Location Requirements OSHA

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) does not impose specific regulations for automated external defibrillators (AEDs). Nevertheless, OSHA's general industry standards address first-aid hazards, and OSHA Publication 3185, "Saving Sudden Cardiac Arrest Victims in the Workplace: Automated External Defibrillators" (2003), endorses the installation of AEDs in workplaces. AEDs should be positioned in areas that are easily accessible and promptly available in case of an emergency, with response time ideally within 3–5 minutes. Suggested locations include:


  • Areas with a high concentration of workers, such as assembly lines and office buildings
  • In proximity to confined spaces
  • Areas where electric-powered devices are utilized
  • Near high-risk zones such as confined spaces, near electrical energy sources, or in remote work areas


In workplaces, employees should receive training in AED usage as part of their first aid and CPR training. Employers should implement a system for regular AED inspections to ensure functionality, replace expired batteries and pads, and ensure proper documentation of maintenance activities. 

Per the Americans with Disability Act (ADA) guidelines, the height to reach the handle of an AED in a public place should not exceed 48 inches. The maximum side reach of an unobstructed approach to an AED is 54 inches.

Strategic AED Placements in Facilities

The unpleasant truth is that every minute that goes by after SCA without defibrillation reduces the victim's probability of survival by 7–10%. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends placing AEDs where people gather and where physical exertion is common. This could be gyms, sports arenas, office buildings, schools, churches, and community spaces. The strategic placement of AEDs in public spaces can improve response times and increase the chances of survival for those experiencing cardiac arrest.

Gyms & Fitness Centers

Physical exertion can sometimes lead to cardiac arrest, especially in individuals with underlying heart conditions. Having an AED on hand can help save lives in such situations. Gyms should place AEDs in easily accessible, visible locations near high-traffic areas. They should be mounted on walls near the gym's main entrance, workout areas, or locker rooms. It's also essential that gym staff are trained to use AEDs.

Places of Worship

Churches, synagogues and other places of worship often have large crowds gathered, including many elderly or at-risk members. Placing AEDS near main entrances or sanctuaries with AED location signs can help quickly access the defibrillators during an emergency. AHS carries some of the best AEDs for churches in semi-automatic and fully automatic configurations.

Hospital and Healthcare Facilities

Hospitals, nursing homes, and medical offices should consider placing AEDs beyond just patient rooms and have AEDs wherever doctors, staff, and visitors need quick response, such as lobbies, cafeterias, and corridors. Staff training on AED usage should be a regular part of hospital safety protocols.

Schools & Campus Settings

With thousands of students, staff, and visitors on-site, schools must implement comprehensive AED programs properly. Strategically placed AEDs across campus buildings, gyms, sports facilities, and high-traffic areas maximize survival potential. AHS provides custom AED package for schools. For instance, its AED School Package includes a wall cabinet and double-sided AED Sign to store, display, and quickly locate the AED when needed.

Community Spaces

From shopping malls and airports to entertainment venues and conference centers, any areas that draw large public crowds need AED coverage in case a bystander suffers sudden cardiac arrest. Clear signage is a must to help bystanders quickly locate the device. Additionally, staff training on AED usage and regular device maintenance checks are essential to ensure these life-saving devices are always ready for action.


Mapping out strategic AED locations in a facility is a proactive step towards ensuring that responders can swiftly deliver life-saving care during a sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) emergency. With carefully planned AED placement, you can provide peace of mind to everyone who enters your facility, knowing they're protected in a cardiac emergency. It's a small investment that can make a big difference in saving lives.


Besides the public areas, homeowners can also consider investing in a home AED if someone in their home has a diagnosed heart condition or a family history of sudden cardiac arrest.

Best AED for Emergency Professionals

Emergency professionals like EMTS, paramedics, and firefighters are typically the first to arrive on the scene of an emergency. They carry different types of medical equipment, such as AED, oxygen tanks, BVM (Bag Valve Mask), dressing & bandages, EKG monitors, and medications. They usually customize their arsenal based on the nature of the emergency and the patient's needs. When attending medical emergencies like cardiac arrest, choking, drowning, and electrocution, emergency responders may use an AED in any situation where an individual is unresponsive and not breathing due to a suspected cardiac arrest.


Many schools, universities, offices, and public spaces may also have dedicated emergency response teams trained in using AEDs. These teams may include security personnel, facilities managers, or other staff members who have received AED training. Although there are several options, consider ease of use, durability, and advanced features when selecting the best AED for emergency professionals. Here are some AED options suggested by experts.



This AED is a popular choice among emergency professionals due to its advanced features, such as real-time CPR feedback and a unique "See-Thru CPR" feature that reduces interruptions during compressions. It's also rugged and durable, making it suitable for challenging environments.


Physio-Control LIFEPAK CR2

This AED is designed for professional responders and features advanced capabilities like a metronome for CPR rate guidance, a large color display, and the ability to escalate to 360J for difficult-to-defibrillate patients. It's also highly durable and has a long battery life.


Powerheart G5

The Powerheart G5 from Zoll Cardiac Science is the first FDA-approved AED with fully automated shock delivery, adjustable increasing energy, quick shock times, and dual-language functionality. Its advanced features and user-friendly design make it ideal for seasoned professionals and first-time rescuers, allowing them to quickly assess and deliver an electric shock to restore normal heart rhythms.




Physio-Control LIFEPAK CR2

Powerheart G5

Target Users

EMS Professionals

Emergency Responders

Emergency Responders


Rugged, Durable

Lightweight, Portable

Extremely Durable, Weatherproof

Special Capabilities

ECG Monitoring, Connects to Mobile Networks

Infant/Child Mode, Semi-Automatic Shock Delivery

CPR Guidance with Real-time Feedback, Self-test Feature


Harsh Environments

Adaptability to Pediatric Patients

All-weather Conditions, Adult and Pediatric Use


Choosing the right AED involves considering what's most important for your team, like whether you need something rugged, portable, or specific features for treating children.

Best AED Easy-To-Use AEDs for Public Facilities

When picking an AED for places like your school or office, think about these main points:


Key Consideration


Ease of Use

Look for AEDs that guide you with spoken instructions and pictures showing how to perform CPR and use the device.


Pick an AED in a clearly marked cabinet so anyone can spot it quickly in an emergency.


Choose an AED built tough enough to handle the outdoors and any rough treatment it might encounter.

Maintenance Costs

Remember the long-term costs, like changing out pads and keeping the unit in working order.


Here are some recommended AED models, which provide clear instructions through voice prompts and guides to help users through administering CPR and using the AED.


Philips HeartStart OnSite AED

This AED offers clear voice directions and picture instructions. Its lightweight design makes it a breeze to set up anywhere, and it's priced well for public areas. In addition, Philips HeartStart OnSite comes in various packages, such as AED for gyms, corporate offices, schools, and churches, making selecting an AED suitable for the facility easier.


Cardiac Science Powerheart G5 AED

It speaks three languages (English, Spanish, and French). It gives visual and voice CPR instructions, making it perfect for diverse settings. The G5 AED's innovative features and user-friendly design make it an ideal option for experts and first-time rescuers.


HeartSine Samaritan PAD 350P AED

With its user-friendly interface, this AED talks you through the rescue process with voice and visual cues. It's compact and light, making it easy to move and install in any public spot, all without breaking the bank.


Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) doesn't wait for a convenient time or place, and when it strikes, every second counts. Quick access to AEDs significantly boosts the chance of survival, making their strategic placement in public areas not just a precaution but a necessity.

The guide underscores the imperative of having AEDs in key locations where they're most likely to be needed – from gyms and places of worship to schools and community spaces. Ensuring they are visible, accessible within minutes, and user-friendly, even for those without medical training.

At the end of the day, investing in AEDs and strategic placement isn't just about checking a compliance box. It's a lifeline that can save colleagues, customers, students or neighbors when every second counts during sudden cardiac arrest. Whether you're a business owner, a school administrator, or just someone who frequents public spaces, knowing where AEDs are located and how to use them can make you a vital link in the chain of survival in a cardiac emergency.

Need help in determining a suitable AED? There's no need to go alone when implementing or upgrading an AED program. At American Hospital Supply, we offer a wide variety of AEDs and AED packages along with cabinets, signage, maintenance supplies and accessories to ensure these life-saving devices are where they need to be. Our customer support team can assist with device selection and placement planning and answer all the queries related to warranty, pricing, and AED models suitable for facilities like churches, schools, gyms, and more.


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