Should your Association consider having an AED available for its pool area or clubhouse fitness center?
Quick access to an AED can save lives and, as a result, laws mandating their installation in public venues have become more common. There is currently no law in Pennsylvania that mandates the installation and/or placement of an AED in private buildings, health clubs, private pools or residential communities. Because of their benefits, however, there is the argument that AEDs are the right thing to do for the Association notwithstanding the potential for a lawsuit. If your Association is considering acquiring an AED, there are certain requirements that the Association must meet in order to avoid liability for its potential failure or misuse.
The Cardiac Arrest Survival Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 238p and 238q, provides AED operators with conditional Good Samaritan legal liability immunity for any harm resulting from the use or attempted use of an AED. An Association would receive immunity if it follows the below identified guidelines:
- Properly notifying local emergency medical service agencies of the presence and location of the acquired AED(s);
- Properly maintaining and testing the AED(s); and
- Providing appropriate training to expected AED users.
Similarly, the Pennsylvania AED Good Samaritan Act, 42 Pa.C.S.A. § 8331.2, provides civil immunity for trained users of AEDs and requires that "expected users shall complete training in the use of an AED . . . .", 42 Pa.C.S. §§ 8331.2(a), (c). Pursuant to the AED Good Samaritan Act, an Association would receive similar immunity only if the Association:
- Ensures that expected AED users receive training from the American National Red Cross or the American Heart Association or through an equivalent course of instruction approved by the Department of Health; and
- Maintains and tests the AED according to the manufacturer's operational guidelines; and
- Provides instruction requiring the user of an AED to utilize available means to immediately contact and activate the emergency medical services system; and
- Assures that any appropriate data or information is made available to emergency medical services personnel or other health care providers as requested.
To date, there are relatively few lawsuits that have arisen directly involving AEDs. Associations considering acquiring an AED should design and maintain an AED program as a way to manage liability risk. We encourage you to discuss this issue with legal counsel in order to avoid potential future litigation.