Congress Acts on AEDs:
In May 2002, both houses of Congress incorporated the Community Access to Emergency Devices Act (Community AED Act) into H.R. 3448 (sections 159, 312 and 313) of the Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Response Act.

The President signed the bill on June 12, 2002 as Public Law 107-188. The provisions authorize $30 million in federal grants in year one of the five-year measure. The grants, to be made available to applying states and localities, would be used for the purchase and placement of automated external defibrillators (AEDs) in public places where cardiac arrests are likely to occur.

Grant funds would also be used to train first responders to administer immediate life-saving care, including AED use and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). The bill also encourages private companies to purchase AEDs and to train employees in CPR and emergency defibrillation.

On November 13, 2000 President Clinton signed the federal “Cardiac Arrest Survival Act”, in H.R.2498, now Public Law 106-505, regarding the placement of AEDs in federal buildings and providing civil immunity for authorized users.

If a Good Samaritan, building owner, or renter acts in good faith to purchase or use an AED to save a life, this law will provide protection from unfair lawsuits. It appropriates $25,000,000 for fiscal years 2001 through 2003 for local grants to purchase AEDs.

The federal bill does not preempt state laws on immunity. Many of the 49 states with existing laws cover additional issues not addressed in this bill. U.S. Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-FL) and 132 cosponsors sponsored H.R. 2498.

On April 24, 1998 President Clinton signed Public Law 105-170, the Aviation Medical Assistance Act, relating to defibrillators on airplanes. It declares that air carriers and individuals “shall not be liable for damages” in attempting to obtain or provide assistance.

It directs the FAA Administrator to “evaluate regulations” and decide on future required use of AEDs on passenger aircraft and in airports.

Each year, more than 250,000 Americans die from sudden cardiac arrest. According to medical experts, the key to survival is timely initiation of a “chain of survival”, including CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation).

Because of recent technological advances there is now a portable lifesaving device, called an “automated external defibrillator” or “AED.” Trained non-medical personnel can use these simplified electronic machines to treat a person in cardiac arrest.

The AED device “guides the user through the process by audible or visual prompts without requiring any discretion or judgment.”1 The American Heart Association notes that at least 20,000 lives could be saved annually by prompt use of AEDs.

Ultimately, with broad deployment of AEDs among trained responders, as many as 50,000 deaths due to sudden cardiac arrest could be prevented each year.

Advocates of this approach envision placement of AEDs in public buildings, transportation centers and even large offices and apartment buildings.

Legislators have become actively involved with this issue. Most commonly, the recent laws encourage broader availability, rather than creating new regulatory restrictions. Most of the bills enacted included one or more provisions to:

1. automated external defibrillator

2. Establish legislative intent that an “automatic external defibrillator may be used by any person for the purpose of saving the life of another person in cardiac arrest.”

3. Encourage or require training in the use of AED devices by potential users.

4. Require AED devices to be maintained and tested to manufacturer’s standards.

5. Create a registry of the location of all such defibrillators, or notification of a local emergency medical authority.

6. Allow a “Good Samaritan” exemption from liability for any individual who renders emergency treatment with a defibrillator.

7. Authorize a state agency to establish more detailed requirements for training and registration.

Florida was the first state to enact such a broad public access law in April 1997 (Chapter 34 of 1997). As of mid-2001, all fifty states, listed below, had enacted defibrillator laws or adopted regulations.

In 2001, Maine became the 50th state in June. Also, this year several states, including Alabama, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia and Oregon passed additional laws clarifying or expanding on earlier language.

In 2002 Arizona, California, New Hampshire and New York enacted legislation, all amending existing provisions concerning the regulation of automated external defibrillators.

Arizona enacted a measure that will require any state building constructed or renovated at a cost of at least $250,000 to be equipped with automated external defibrillators.

SB1070 requires that the Joint Legislative Budget Committee and the Governor’s Office of Strategic Planning and Budgeting should include funding for the placement of automated external defibrillators in capital budgets for new state buildings each fiscal year. The provisions in the act become effective after June 30, 2003.

New York legislators enacted new requirements for public school facilities with more than 1000 persons to provide and maintain on-site AED equipment.

Assembly Bill 8779, requires that all school sponsored activities have at least one staff person who has been trained in the use of the device present.

In 2003, Utah updated its AED law by establishing a statewide registry; while Virginia updated AED laws by deleting the requirement for registration..