Legislature(2003 - 2004)

05/17/2003 09:15 AM House JUD

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
SB 160 - CIVIL LIABILITY FOR DEFIBRILLATOR USE                                                                                
Number 0087                                                                                                                     
CHAIR McGUIRE  announced that the  first order of  business would                                                               
be CS  FOR SENATE BILL  NO. 160(HES),  "An Act relating  to civil                                                               
liability  for use  or  attempted use  of  an automated  external                                                               
defibrillator; and providing for an effective date."                                                                            
Number 0095                                                                                                                     
SENATOR  DONNY OLSON,  Alaska  State  Legislature, sponsor,  said                                                               
that SB  160 addresses  civil liability for  use of  an automated                                                               
external  defibrillator (AED).   He  offered that  250,000 people                                                               
die every year in the U.S.  as a result of sudden cardiac arrest,                                                               
and  that   immediate  defibrillation   is  the   most  important                                                               
treatment  for over  half  of the  people  suffering from  sudden                                                               
cardiac   arrest.     He   remarked   that   AEDs  have   evolved                                                               
significantly  over  the past  several  years;  thus the  current                                                               
generation of  AEDs is  much safer  and easier  to use.   Because                                                               
these   new  devices   have  the   ability  to   discern  between                                                               
"shockable" and  "nonshockable" rhythms  within the heart,  it is                                                               
literally impossible to  shock a person who does  not require it,                                                               
he  opined.     Under  SB  160,   businesses  and  municipalities                                                               
interested in  making AEDs  more accessible would  be able  to do                                                               
so,  free from  civil liability.   In  conclusion, he  encouraged                                                               
passage of the bill.                                                                                                            
SENATOR OLSON,  in response to  a request, assured  the committee                                                               
that modern  AEDs are  foolproof, that  they cannot  be activated                                                               
accidentally,  and  that  he  has   not  heard  of  any  of  them                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE HOLM said  he was thrilled that  Senator Olson has                                                               
brought  this legislation  forth,  and noted  that the  Fairbanks                                                               
assembly  had  decided  not  to make  AEDs  available  until  the                                                               
liability issue was addressed.                                                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE GARA thanked Senator  Olson.  He relayed, however,                                                               
that  he  has  a  concern about  waiving  liability  for  medical                                                               
professionals using  AEDs on the job.   He said he  would support                                                               
SB 160 as  long as he is  guaranteed that no one will  be hurt by                                                               
an AED.                                                                                                                         
Number 0455                                                                                                                     
MICHAEL   LEVY,  M.D.,   Medical   Director,  Emergency   Medical                                                               
Services,  Anchorage  Fire   Department  (AFD),  Municipality  of                                                               
Anchorage (MOA), said he has  supported putting AEDs in virtually                                                               
all of Anchorage's police units,  has supported an AED program at                                                               
the  Ted Stevens  Anchorage International  Airport, and  has been                                                               
approached to  support putting an  AED outside of  the governor's                                                               
office.   The bottom line, he  remarked, is that modern  AEDs are                                                               
as safe  as a light  switch, adding  that there is  absolutely no                                                               
reason  to  be concerned  about  the  intrinsic safety  of  these                                                               
devices, which have an extensive body  of literature on them.  He                                                               
explained that  AEDs are applied to  people who show no  signs of                                                               
life and  who would  otherwise not survive.   He  emphasized that                                                               
AEDs are  very important; Aircraft  now carry AEDs, and  they are                                                               
widely distributed.   Turning  to Representative  Gara's concern,                                                               
he said that  a person cannot be  injured by an AED,  even if the                                                               
use of one was not warranted.                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG asked whether  current law requires AEDs                                                               
in public buildings.                                                                                                            
SENATOR  OLSON said  no, and  opined that  without immunity  from                                                               
civil  liability, municipalities  would  be uncomfortable  making                                                               
AEDs available in public buildings.                                                                                             
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG asked Senator  Olson whether he would be                                                               
willing to consider requiring AEDs in public buildings.                                                                         
SENATOR OLSON  indicated that he would  first want to see  SB 160                                                               
enacted; then, perhaps such a mandate wouldn't be necessary.                                                                    
Number 0988                                                                                                                     
JENNIFER   APP,   Alaska   Advocacy  Director,   American   Heart                                                               
Association,  said  that  the American  Heart  Association  fully                                                               
supports  SB   160,  which  would   reduce  the   liability  risk                                                               
associated  with  both  using and  providing  automated  external                                                               
defibrillators (AEDs).   She explained that  the defibrillator is                                                               
the only known way to pull  someone out of cardiac arrest.  Brain                                                               
death and  permanent death  start to  occur in  just four  to six                                                               
minutes  after someone  experiences cardiac  arrest.   This means                                                               
that  when  a  person  goes into  cardiac  arrest,  every  second                                                               
counts, and the proximity of an  AED is a crucial element in that                                                               
person's survival.  She went on to say:                                                                                         
     Defibrillators  play  a  critical   part  in  what  the                                                                    
     [American] Heart  Association has  called the  chain of                                                                    
     survival.    The  chain  of  survival  is  a  four-step                                                                    
     process  that hopefully  will occur  when someone  goes                                                                    
     into cardiac arrest  in an ideal situation.   The first                                                                    
     step is  recognizing that the  cardiovascular emergency                                                                    
     exists.  The second  step is early CPR [cardiopulmonary                                                                    
     resuscitation].       The    third   step    is   early                                                                    
     defibrillation.  And the fourth  step is early advanced                                                                    
     care.   The [American] Heart Association  has concluded                                                                    
     that the third step,  early defibrillation, is the most                                                                    
     critical step in  this four-part chain of  survival.  A                                                                    
     cardiac arrest  victim who is not  defibrillated within                                                                    
     eight  to  ten  minutes  has  virtually  no  chance  of                                                                    
     survival.  What Senate Bill  160 does is remove some of                                                                    
     the  perceived barrier  in  placing  AEDs in  strategic                                                                    
     places around  our communities.   This bill is  a great                                                                    
     idea; we fully support it ....                                                                                             
Number 1094                                                                                                                     
MATTHEW  D.   ANDERSON,  Health   Program  Manager   III,  Injury                                                               
Prevention Unit,  Community Health & Emergency  Medical Services,                                                               
Department  of Health  &  Social Services  (DHSS),  said that  he                                                               
would be speaking  in favor of SB  160.  One of  the strengths of                                                               
SB 160,  he said, is  that it lays out  exactly what needs  to be                                                               
done, by those contemplating acquisition  of an AED, to make them                                                               
effective.   This includes information about  training, notifying                                                               
emergency  medical services  or agencies,  placement, and  making                                                               
notification  available.    He  said  that  [the  DHSS]  strongly                                                               
supports SB 160.                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG asked how much an AED costs.                                                                           
MR. ANDERSON said the cost ranges  between $1,300 and $2,500.  He                                                               
noted   that  some   models  have   alarms  that,   when  opened,                                                               
automatically dial 911.                                                                                                         
Number 1201                                                                                                                     
SENATOR  SCOTT  OGAN,  Alaska State  Legislature,  said  that  he                                                               
supports SB 160.   He noted that a defibrillator  has brought him                                                               
out of  full cardiac arrest,  and that AEDs are  amazingly simple                                                               
devices to  use.  He  encouraged passage  of SB 160,  adding that                                                               
without a defibrillator, he might not have survived.                                                                            
Number 1335                                                                                                                     
CHAIR  McGUIRE, after  determining  that no  one  else wished  to                                                               
testify, closed public testimony on SB 160.                                                                                     
Number 1339                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  HOLM  moved  to   report  CSSB  160(HES)  out  of                                                               
committee  with individual  recommendations and  the accompanying                                                               
[zero] fiscal note.  There  being no objection, CSSB 160(HES) was                                                               
reported from the House Judiciary Standing Committee.                                                                           

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