The American Heart Association is championing a national effort to make automated external defibrillators available to the public. Clinicians are beginning to grapple with the complexities involved in training laypersons to use these devices. The article reviews the experience of researchers involved in such training. Suggestions for training of nontraditional responders are derived from a review of the literature and are integrated with suggestions from active field investigators and the participants in a workshop on this topic held during the American Heart Association Public Access Defibrillation II Conference in Washington, DC (April 17-19, 1997). So far, widespread training of traditional first responders such as police and firefighters to use automated external defibrillators appears to be safe and effective. The data from studies in which nontraditional responders were trained are not as convincing. Further research is needed before we can assume that training of the public will be as easy and effective as training of traditional first responders.

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