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AEDs and The Law: What You Need to Know

AEDs and the Law: What You Need to Know

Today we’ll be looking at AEDs and The Law: what you need to know. After an alarming number of over 350,000 deaths due to sudden cardiac arrest cases, the US took their rescue mission to minimize the numbers and installed AED devices near critical spots where most accidents occurred. Additionally, bystanders are encouraged to activate the AEDs in case of an emergency and provide help to the victim.

A study conducted by the NIH finds that bystanders saved 1,700 lives by using AED, which confirms that the government’s strategy works.

However, there is still the other end of the story – bystanders use the AED, and the victim dies. In this case, the question of who is irresponsible in such unfortunate situations and whether there are any consequences is inevitable.

This article examines the laws related to AEDs, the legal requirements that apply to bystanders or untrained first-aid civilians, and how most states treat AED.

Main Laws Related to AED

Understanding AEDs and the Law: What You Need to Know is how it’s related to main laws. Every state in the US treats AED legally differently; some have more rigorous legal requirements, while others have more general. However, the laws below apply to all 50 states in the US, and you have to know them before you react in an emergency.

The Good Samaritan Law

The Good Samaritan Law serves as immune from lawsuits to all bystanders or civilians outside the Emergency Medical Services that offer help to victims of cardiac arrests.

As with any other law, there are specific groups of people that are entitled to the Good Samaritan Law that everyone must know about, and they go as follows:


    • Medical staff when off duty: We mentioned that healthcare professionals are not entitled to this law, but this is only while they are at work. When the medical staff is off-duty, they are considered regular civilians, making them entitled to the law.

    • Military Staff: Despite the national protections, militaries can intervene in case of an accident and have absolute protection from lawsuits by the Good Samaritan Law.

    • Aviatic crews: Helicopter crews can land on any property to offer help during an emergency, and they will not be held accountable for property damage suits.

Additionally, despite the groups entitled to the Good Samaritan Law, any bystanders offering assistance during an emergency must comply with the components of the law. In other words, the bystander must:


    • Act in goodwill to be entitled to the Good Samaritan Law

    • Be sure the victim is in a life-threatening position

    • Make rational choices during the intervention

    • Get the victim to consent to the help (if conscious)

If the person providing help obliges and follows the main components of the Good Samaritan Law, they cannot be held accountable in court.

Finally, in some states, there is the so-called “Negligence Law” where a person is held accountable for not responding to an emergency and offering help to a casualty in imminent danger. Knowing local laws is crucial for understanding AEDs and the Law: What You Need to Know.

The Federal Cardiac Arrest Survival Act

The Federal Cardiac Arrest Survival Act is a law passed to raise awareness of the importance of AED support during a sudden cardiac arrest case and encourage its utilization in federal buildings. The AEDs must be placed in a visible and reachable position that any bystander can use in an emergency. These AED units are user-friendly and designed to instruct people to execute the procedure successfully.

After the government passed this law, there has been a noticeable decrease in death cases by cardiac arrest in the US.

Community Access to Emergency Devices Act

When the cases of sudden cardiac arrests outside the hospital reached their peak, President Bush signed a federal grant of $30 million. This grant was an investment in AED devices that got placed in the areas where most sudden cardiac arrest cases occurred. It also used to train first responder teams apart from the healthcare professionals to react in case of an accident and effectively execute first aid, CPR, or AED.

AED Legal Requirements for Businesses

There is no national law that binds businesses by law to have AED in their offices, although it is highly recommended. Sudden cardiac arrests occur more often than we think, and utilizing AED within the first minutes of the accident is crucial.

However, some states implement the usage of the AED in businesses where sudden cardiac arrests are likely to happen.

GYM and Health Clubs

Despite the healthy benefits gyms offer, they can be a trigger for sudden cardiac arrest cases. According to a survey, even young athletes in healthy conditions undergo a sudden cardiac arrest that ends fatally with a 1 to 40,000 to 1 to 80,000 ratio. The following states oblige every gym or health club to have an AED unit to prevent such scenarios in the future:


    • Oregon

    • California

    • Nevada

    • Iowa

    • Illinois

    • Indiana

    • Michigan

    • Arkansas

    • Louisiana

    • Pennsylvania

    • New Jersey

    • New York

    • Massachusetts

    • Rhode Island

    • Connecticut

High Capacity Companies

Companies with high capacity in California must have access to AED. That includes:


    • Buildings with a capacity of 300 people or more must have access to the AED;

    • Any residential, institutional, business, education, or mercantile building up to or over 200 occupancy seatings must have access to the AED.

    • Adult residential facilities for people with special health care needs must report to the State Department of Developmental Services no later than 24 hours after using an AED;

Moreover, the owners of these facilities or businesses are further responsible for implementing policies with developed AED training and the use of AED units in the local or leased facilities. In addition, follow the states that foster the above mentioned rule:

AED Legal Requirements for Public or Governmental Institutions

When it comes to AEDs and the Law: What You Need to Know is that it can be different for public and governmental institutions. Despite the private business sector, several institutions are obliged by law to own AED within the building as of 2017.

Public or Private Schools

While some public schools in the US have implemented CPR and first aid training in the school curriculums to raise awareness about the importance of sudden cardiac arrest cases, some states require educational institutions to have the implementation of AED within the building.

Here are the states where public schools must be equipped with AED:


    • Arkansas

    • Connecticut

    • Florida

    • Georgia

    • Louisiana

    • Oklahoma

These are the states that require public schools to be equipped with AED:


    • New Jersey

    • Oregon

    • Pennsylvania

State Buildings

As mentioned above, state buildings are also required to have AED access. In addition, follows the list of states:


    • Arkansas

    • Arizona

    • California

    • North Carolina

    • Nevada

    • New York

    • Oregon

    • Rhode Island

Current State of the AED Laws in the US

Over the years, the need for AED Laws amendments was crucial not only to raise awareness and save more lives but more in terms of collective consciousness. Therefore, the Good Samaritan Law, also known as the immunity for all bystanders acting in goodwill to offer first aid to people in distress, is passed in all 50 states.

The latest amendment was applied to school institutions, but it still needs to be adopted by all states in the US. Some states even encourage students to offer AED help in case of an accident or crisis. Moreover, gyms and health clubs are now required to have AED because engaging in such sports activities elevates the odds of sudden cardiac arrest.

Ultimately, the administrative law obliges businesses or other institutions with a high frequency of people to have access to AED.

Luckily, there are only positive results with the implementation of the AED laws, and the number of death cases due to sudden cardiac arrests significantly drops.

Key Takeaways Of AEDs and the Law: What You Need to Know

Over the years, America faced various sudden cardiac arrest cases that ended fatally. Unfortunately, those cases involved young people, even the athletic ones.

All 50 states passed the Good Samaritan Law to raise awareness about the importance of providing first aid in case of an accident. This law protects all bystanders acting in goodwill and following the components of the law from any civil liabilities.

Additionally, to enhance the number of lives saved, the states implemented various amendments to first aid, CPR, and, most importantly, AED as the most effective support in helping casualties of sudden cardiac arrests.

Nowadays, schools, gyms, public areas, and health clubs are only some of the institutions bound by law to implement the AED. The current results of the latest change in the US AED laws are optimistic as the cases of sudden cardiac arrests cases with fatal consequences notably decrease. This should help you better understand AEDs and the Law: What You Need to Know.