AED State Laws & Legislation
Approximately 400,000 Americans will experience a life-threatening
condition each year called sudden cardiac arrest (SCA). Many of these
victims will die if early medical treatment doesn’t arrive in less than
ten minutes. However, traditional first aid, including cardiopulmonary
resuscitation (CPR), isn’t enough if the victim is suffering an SCA.
Sudden cardiac arrest is the sudden interruption of the heart’s
electrical activity resulting in an abnormal rhythm called ventricular
defibrillation (VF), if VF is not corrected by defibrillating (shocking)
the heart with an automated external defibrillator (AED), the victim
will most likely die or suffer severe neurological damage.
SCA can strike any person, no matter how young or old they are, and no matter how healthy they are; and while it is not preventable, sudden cardiac death can be prevented if the SCA is treated properly and quickly. Many experts agree that implementing the “chain of survival” is the key to saving lives. The chain of survival consists of four steps designed to give an SCA victim a chance at surviving. The steps are:
- Early Access – call 911 immediately
- Early CPR
- Early Defibrillation
- Early Advanced Care – provided by paramedics and other EMS personnel
All fifty states have enacted laws and/or regulations requiring that
public gathering places have AEDs available. California, for example,
requires that all health clubs carry AEDs. Many schools, airports and
sports arenas have them as well. Florida was the first state to enact
AED laws in 1997. Each state provides Good Samaritan protection as well
as legislation requirements for establishing an AED program.
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), “most of the bills enacted from 1997 to 2001 included one or more provisions to:”
- 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."
- Encourage or require training in the use of AED devices by potential users.
- Require AED devices to be maintained and tested to manufacturer's standards.
- Create a registry of the location of all such defibrillators, or notification of a local emergency medical authority.
- Allow a "Good Samaritan" exemption from liability for any individual who renders emergency treatment with a defibrillator.
- Authorize a state agency to establish more detailed requirements for training and registration.
It is the intent of these laws and regulations that even though
sudden cardiac arrest cannot be prevented (yet), that sudden cardiac
death or neurological damage will not be the end result in any of these
Click on your state to view AED legislation summaries and requirements.