AEDs Increasingly on Agenda of State Legislatures

Within state legislatures throughout the country, the topics of automated external defibrillators (AEDs) and cardiac arrest are getting more and more play. As of January 2012, there were a total of fifty-six pending or recently passed state bills which specifically relate to AEDs and cardiac arrest, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures .

CPR and AED use gained widespread attention in the mid-1990s when the American Heart Association introduced a public health initiative to promote early CPR and AED use by trained lay responders in community AED programs.

Then in 1995, the American Heart Association began promoting the development of Public Access Defibrillator (PAD) programs to improve sudden cardiac arrest survival rates. Between 1995 and 2000 all 50 states passed laws and regulations concerning lay rescuer AED programs. In 2000, the federal Cardiac Arrest Survival Act mandated the installation of automated external defibrillators (AEDs) in federal buildings, and gave legal immunity to those who use them.

Over the last dozen years, states are actively following the federal government’s lead by proposing and passing a wide variety of laws concerning the placement and use of AEDs. Why? They recognize the fact that AEDs help save lives. Numerous bills concerning AEDs are currently in various stages of the legislative process throughout the states. Recently enacted legislation concerning AEDs is a solid indicator of the direction other states may be apt to take, particularly concerning the legislation of AED use in schools. Here is a sampling of recent AED legislation:

New Jersey: In 2012, New Jersey enacted “Janet’s Law” (named for 11-year old Janet Zilinski who died of sudden cardiac arrest after cheerleading) which requires all public and nonpublic schools (K-12) to have AEDs on site. An additional new law, (A-1608), mandates that schools establish emergency action plans so they are prepared to deal with sudden cardiac events and other life-threatening emergencies.

New York:  New York’s S2923, signed June 8, 2011, requires all dental offices in New York to have an AED on site. Additionally, all dentists in New York State must be certified in CPR, which includes AED training.

Michigan: The Wolverine state passed Senate Resolution 0074 in 2011 to urge school districts and communities to have AED devices present at all athletic and community-sponsored events.

Oregon: In 2010 Oregon passed Senate Bill 1033 which requires each school campus to have at least one AED on campus. Compliance is required on or before January 1, 2015.
Connecticut: Public Act No. 09-94 enacted in July 2009 requires that schools have an automatic external defibrillator on premises and school staff be trained in AED use and CPR.  It also requires schools to develop emergency response plans in preparation to address sudden cardiac arrest or similar life threatening emergencies that may occur on school grounds.

Learn more about the author Whitney Brostrom