Step 10 – Program Evaluation

After the AED program has been in place for a month or two, it is a good idea for the Planning Committee to meet again to begin evaluating the program. Meetings for this purpose need not be held more often than quarterly and it should be made clear that the purpose is to evaluate the program, not how well specific individuals are learning or applying the skills.

Evaluating the Program

Initial meetings may focus on how many people have volunteered to be trained, what comments are circulating about the program, and questions that may require answers. The committee’s purpose will be to publicly recognize those who have volunteered, encourage others to take the training, and put to rest any inaccuracies that are making the rounds.

As time goes on, the committee will want to look at the results of drills both as to the extent to which AED/CPR skills are retained by employees and the effectiveness of the entire agency in responding to simulated cardiac arrests. In the first case, decisions may be made to increase the frequency of refresher courses and individual drills if performance seems to be slipping or to keep the interval the same if performance is near criterion levels. In reference to the agency-wide drills, there is nothing like a dry run to point out those procedures that look good on paper but simply don’t work. Feedback from such drills should be used to revise subsequent drafts of the plan.

Evaluating an Emergency

Your committee may never have the opportunity to evaluate your agency’s response to a real-life cardiac emergency (we hope!). If such a disaster occurs, the committee should meet as soon after the event as possible to evaluate the agency’s emergency response. If the victim survives, there still may be some experiences that were gained that will be useful should a cardiac arrest occur in the future. If the victim dies, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the agency failed in any way. AEDs are the best tools available to us in restoring normal heart rhythm, but they aren’t successful every time they are used. Sometimes an objective evaluation following a death serves as a catharsis for those who worked on the victim and wonder whether his death was caused by something they did or didn’t do.
Whatever the results of any level of evaluation, the purpose is not to place blame but to make the program more fool proof in preparation for the next emergency.