Legislature(2003 - 2004)
05/17/2003 09:15 AM House JUD
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= 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 malfunctioning. 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.