AED Reporting Requirements and Fire Departments

Today’s burning question: I heard that anyone who acquires an AED has to report it under federal, state and local law. Is that true and if so, to whom do I as fire chief, have to report it to?

Answer: As a fire department, chances are we are already complying with the automatic external defibrillator (AED) reporting requirements, but it certainly wouldn’t hurt to review the law to determine if any apply to your department.

There are actually two sets of reporting requirements for AEDs. The first involve state law requirements that every use of an AED be reported. The specifics vary state by state, but any use of an AED may have to be reported to either to a doctor, state EMS authorities, or local EMS personnel who are called to respond. This reporting requirement is not usually much of a problem for firefighters and EMS personnel since we are the ones who respond. It is a bigger deal for, say, a school, a library, or a health club.

There is a second type of reporting requirement that applies to any person or entity who “acquires” an AED to report or inform state and/or local authorities of its location. The intent behind these laws is to create a comprehensive registry of AEDs in each community. Here are two examples of state laws:

New York: NYS Public Health Law

Article 30/3000-B   Automated External Defibrillators – Public Access Providers

(C) The public access defibrillation provider shall notify the regional council of the existence, location and type of any automated external defibrillator it possess.

Illinois: 410 ILCS 4/20

Sec. 20. Maintenance; oversight. …

(b) A person in possession of an automated external defibrillator shall notify an agent of the local emergency communications or vehicle dispatch center of the existence, location, and type of the automated external defibrillator.

While the concept behind creating an AED registry is nice, not all states have such a law. The mechanisms for reporting and what is done with that information remain a hodge-podge from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.

There is also a federal law, the Cardiac Arrest Survival Act of 2000, that requires a “person” who “acquires” an AED to notify “local emergency response personnel or other appropriate entities” of the placement of the device. The Act does not penalize the failure to report in terms of a fine or making it a criminal offense. However, the person or entity who acquires an AED and does not report its placement would not be entitled to immunity protection offered under the act. Here is what the law says:

42 U.S. Code § 238q

(a) GOOD SAMARITAN PROTECTIONS REGARDING AEDS.—Except as provided in subsection (b), any person who uses or attempts to use an automated external defibrillator device on a victim of a perceived medical emergency is immune from civil liability for any harm resulting from the use or attempted use of such device; and in addition, any person who acquired the device is immune from such liability, if the harm was not due to the failure of such acquirer of the device—

(1) to notify local emergency response personnel or other appropriate entities of the most recent placement of the device within a reasonable period of time after the device was placed;

To summarize, it would not appear that any of these laws are relevant to a fire or EMS provider. However, given the state-to-state differences it certainly it would be worth sitting down and looking at exactly what your state law requirements are.

Here is a web site with some additional information on each state’s AED related laws.

About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 40 years of fire service experience and 30 as a practicing attorney licensed in both Rhode Island and Maine. His background includes 29 years as a career firefighter in Providence (retiring as a Deputy Assistant Chief), as well as volunteer and paid on call experience. He is the author of two books: Legal Considerations for Fire and Emergency Services, (2006, 2nd ed. 2011, 3rd ed. 2014) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.
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