Even though federal and state regulations of automated external defibrillators (AEDs) are not the most scintillating reading material, having a basic understanding of the laws that apply to an AED’s display, maintenance, and use is necessary to an AED plan.
Federal Laws & Regulations
There are very few federal laws and regulations that govern AED placement and use. In fact, the majority of federal regulation is taken from the interpretation of other laws. In 2000, the Federal Cardiac Arrest Survival Act was signed into law that recommended AED’s be placed in federal buildings. It was also the first laws of its kind that extended “Good Samaritan” protection for those who use AEDs in an attempt to save a person’s life. By limiting the liability of the person trying to perform life-saving cardiac intervention, bystanders were protected from civil litigation if the efforts were unsuccessful or resulting in the injury of the victim.
In 2002, the Community Access to Emergency Devices Act (Community AED Act) created a federal grant program that provided rural areas with an opportunity to purchase expensive AED equipment. It also created a federal grant program for AED educational programs that would allow for greater training opportunities in AED placement, maintenance, and use.
State Laws & Regulations
Currently, all 50 states have laws or regulations that require public gathering places to have AEDs available for use in the event of an emergency. Every state’s laws and regulations regarding AEDs covers three aspects of the devices – their location, their maintenance, and their use. However, these laws and regulations vary from state to state in both their definition of what a public gathering place is and what constitutes “available.” For instance, California requires gyms and fitness clubs to have an AED available, but Wyoming does not. Alabama requires an AED be placed in every public school in the state. However, Idaho has no such law. Utah requires anyone who obtains an AED to register their device with emergency medical dispatch centers throughout the state for use by EMS personnel in the event of an incident. Oregon does not require registration of your AED but does have exceptions to a health club, public setting, and dental office rules.
Regardless of the variance between states, every state law or regulation contains a stipulation that echoes the first federal “Good Samaritan” law. Those who attempt to save the life of a person suffering from sudden cardiac arrest, whether it be through CPR or the use of an AED, cannot be held civilly liable if the outcome is not a favorable one.
For the best idea of what requirements exist in your state, it is important to view the laws as they pertain to your area. This information is available at the National Conference of State Legislatures website.
Before placing an AED in your workplace, public space or building, consult your local and state laws for guidance about its protection, placement, maintenance, and use. Then, once the AED is correctly placed, train any employees or volunteers on its use and schedule periodic maintenance to ensure it remains in working order.