December 15, 2011
By: James Orlando, Associate Analyst
You asked for an overview of Connecticut law on automatic external defibrillators (AEDs). This report updates OLR Report 2007-R-0587.
An AED is a portable automatic device used to restore normal heart rhythm to people having heart attacks. It consists of a small computer (microprocessor), electrodes, and electrical circuitry. If the heart is in ventricular fibrillation, i.e., beating abnormally, the microprocessor recommends a defibrillating shock to restore a regular rhythm. The shock is delivered through adhesive electrode pads.
Connecticut law requires AEDs in certain establishments, including schools (provided funding is available) and public golf courses. State regulations also require defibrillation equipment (not necessarily AEDs) in certain medical settings. State law addresses other topics related to AEDs, such as (1) training standards for AED use by certain professionals and (2) immunity related to providing or maintaining an AED, or negligently using an AED in certain circumstances.
The law requires school boards to have at each school, if funding is available, (1) an AED and (2) school staff trained in its use and in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). The AED and trained personnel must be available during (1) the school's normal operational hours, (2) school-sponsored athletic events and practices on school grounds, and (3) school-sponsored events not taking place during normal school hours.
School boards may accept an AED donation if the AED meets U.S. Food and Drug Administration standards and is in compliance with the manufacturer's maintenance schedule. A board may accept gifts, grants, and donations, including in-kind donations, designated for an AED purchase and the costs of (1) inspecting and maintaining the device and (2) training staff in its use.
The law also requires each school to develop emergency action response plans for the appropriate use of school personnel to respond to individuals experiencing sudden cardiac arrest or similar life-threatening emergencies while on school grounds. Each school with an athletic department or organized athletic program must develop an emergency action response plan addressing appropriate school personnel response to the same circumstances while attending or participating in an athletic event or practice on school grounds (CGS § 10-212d).
PUBLIC GOLF COURSES
The law requires each public golf course to provide and maintain an AED in a central location. This provision uses the definition of AED found in the emergency medical services law (see below). A “public golf course” is one with at least nine holes and a course length of at least 2,750 yards (CGS § 19a-197c).
CERTAIN MEDICAL SETTINGS
Department of Public Health regulations require defibrillation equipment in certain medical settings – e.g., dialysis units (Conn. Agencies Regs., § 19-13-D55a(l)) and out-patient surgical facilities operated by corporations other than hospitals (Conn. Agencies Regs., § 19-13-D56(i)).
CERTAIN EMERGENCY VEHICLES
State regulations require vehicles used by emergency medical technicians and paramedics to contain a defibrillator (Conn. Agency Regs., § 19a-179-18(b)(2)(F)).
IMMUNITY FROM LIABILITY AND TRAINING
“Good Samaritans” and Providing or Maintaining AEDs
The law extends immunity from liability to any person operating an AED who voluntarily, gratuitously, and not in the ordinary course of his or her employment or practice, gives emergency assistance to a person in need. It specifies that the person providing assistance is not liable for civil damages for acts or omissions in providing the emergency care that might constitute ordinary negligence. The law also provides immunity in a lawsuit for damages for acts arising out of a person's or entity's negligence in providing or maintaining an AED. The law specifies that immunity does not apply to gross, willful, or wanton negligence.
The law specifies that it should not be construed as exempting paid or volunteer firefighters, police officers, or emergency medical services (EMS) personnel from completing training in cardiopulmonary resuscitation or in the use of an AED according to the standards of the American Red Cross or American Heart Association (CGS § 52-557b). A paid or volunteer firefighter or police officer, a member of a ski patrol, lifeguard, conservation officer, patrol officer or special police officer of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, or emergency medical service personnel who has been trained in the use of AEDs according to American Red Cross or American Heart Association standards is not subject to additional requirements, except recertification requirements, in order to use an AED (CGS § 19a-197b).
The statute defines an AED as a device that (1) is used to administer an electric shock through the chest wall to the heart; (2) contains internal decision-making electronics, microcomputers, or special software that allows it to interpret physiologic signals, make medical diagnosis, and, if necessary, apply therapy; (3) guides the user through the process of using the device by audible or visual prompts; and (4) does not require the user to employ any discretion or judgment in its use (CGS § 52-557b, the same definition also applies in the EMS statutes: CGS § 19a-175).
GRANTS FOR AED PURCHASE
Through the Local Capital Improvement Fund, the state reimburses municipalities for the costs of eligible local capital improvement projects. Eligible projects include acquisition of AEDs, among many others (e.g., road construction, public housing projects) (CGS § 7-536).