Legislature(2003 - 2004)

04/30/2003 01:48 PM JUD

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
          SB 160-CIVIL LIABILITY FOR DEFIBRILLATOR USE                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR   SEEKINS   announced   CSSB   160(HES)  to   be   up   for                                                               
consideration.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR OLSON,  sponsor of SB  160, said he introduced  this bill                                                               
because every year over 250,000  people die from a sudden cardiac                                                               
arrest and  the most  important treatment for  more than  half of                                                               
them is  immediate defibrillation,  which is an  electrical shock                                                               
that is intended to restore  normal heart rhythm. For each minute                                                               
a  person remains  in cardiac  arrest, their  chance of  survival                                                               
deceases  by seven  to  ten percent.  The  current generation  of                                                               
automatic  external  defibrillators  (AEDs)  is  much  safer  and                                                               
easier to  use having  the ability  to discern  between shockable                                                               
and nonshockable rhythms. For that  reason, it's impossible for a                                                               
person to get shocked if he doesn't need it.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Businesses  and  municipalities  that are  interested  in  making                                                               
AED's  available  and  more  accessible   in  the  workplace  are                                                               
somewhat discouraged  because of  their potential  liability. The                                                               
American Heart Association supports this bill.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR FRENCH asked  how prevalent AEDs are in  the workplace in                                                               
Alaska.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR OLSON answered, where he  comes from in bush Alaska, AEDs                                                               
are  non-existent.  He  knows  of  just  the  one  in  the  state                                                               
building,  but the  fact  that  it is  on  only  one floor  would                                                               
significantly  diminish  its  effectiveness to  people  on  other                                                               
floors.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR SEEKINS remarked  that if someone had to run  it up or down                                                               
the stairs, two machines might be needed.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR FRENCH asked how much the units cost.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR OLSON replied  it depends on how  sophisticated they are.                                                               
Some earlier  generation ones are  $1,000 to $1,500; the  kind in                                                               
the legislative  lounge is $2,500  and the gold standard  unit is                                                               
$3,200.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR THERRIAULT said he remembers  some opposition to the bill                                                               
last year and asked if any groups had expressed opposition.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  OLSON  replied  he  hasn't   heard  any  opposition.  He                                                               
reiterated that these machines have become safer and safer.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  THERRIAULT  asked if  language  was  modified from  last                                                               
year's bill.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR OLSON  replied yes, language  on page  2, lines 10  - 26,                                                               
was reworked and was much easier to understand.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MS. JENNIFER  ARP, American Heart  Association, supported  SB 160                                                               
for  the reasons  stated  by Senator  Olson.  The American  Heart                                                               
Association has  outlined a  four-step plan  called the  Chain of                                                               
Survival  because every  second counts  in cardiac  arrest cases.                                                               
Defibrillators play a critical part in the chain of survival.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
The  four  links   in  the  chain  are:  one,   early  access  or                                                               
recognizing  that  a  cardiac emergency  exists  and  immediately                                                               
calling  emergency medical  services; second,  early CPR;  third,                                                               
early defibrillation,  which means  having immediate access  to a                                                               
properly working AED; and four,  early advanced care, which means                                                               
having  qualified  paramedics  with up-to-date  advanced  cardiac                                                               
life support training.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
     Early defibrillation is often  called the critical link                                                                    
     in the  chain of survival,  because it is  actually the                                                                    
     only way to successfully  treat most cardiac arrests. A                                                                    
     cardiac arrest  victim who is not  defibrillated within                                                                    
     eight  to  ten  minutes  has  virtually  no  chance  of                                                                    
     survival.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
SB 160 will  improve the chance of survival in  several ways - by                                                               
eliminating  the threat  of civil  liability for  providing AEDs,                                                               
thus  making  them  more  readily  available,  and  by  providing                                                               
appropriate training.  The bill  also eliminates  civil liability                                                               
for individuals who use an AED on a victim in an emergency.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  SEEKINS said  the bill  defines  appropriate training  and                                                               
asked if the Heart Association  offers the certification training                                                               
courses.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MS. ARP replied  they do. The course takes a  couple of hours and                                                               
involves both CPR and basic  AED training. The American Red Cross                                                               
offers  the  class  as  well.   She  didn't  know  of  any  other                                                               
organization that provided the training.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR SEEKINS asked if it is  clear to everyone what an AED looks                                                               
like and does it need to  be defined in statute. He was concerned                                                               
that  someone might  call another  device, that  wouldn't do  the                                                               
job, by the same name.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MS.  ARP replied  the  wording in  the title  may  have just  one                                                               
meaning.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR OLSON  pointed out that  there is a difference  between a                                                               
defibrillator and an AED. Defibrillators  have been on the market                                                               
for  a long  time and  don't have  what qualifies  as an  AED. He                                                               
demonstrated an AED for the committee.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MR. MARK  JOHNSON, Chief, Community Health  and Emergency Medical                                                               
Services, supported  SB 160 for  all the reasons  already stated.                                                               
He  added  that the  department  recognizes  at least  one  other                                                               
course,  but he  didn't  have the  name with  him.  He said  that                                                               
wherever  AEDs are  placed, the  local emergency  medical service                                                               
should be  notified so that the  EMS dispatcher would be  able to                                                               
tell  someone who  called where  the  device is  located. No  one                                                               
knows specifically how many there  are. The department received a                                                               
federal grant to purchase 80 AEDs  and they are in the process of                                                               
distributing  them  across  the state.  Some  municipalities  and                                                               
organizations have been reluctant to  have the devices because of                                                               
potential liability, but that is  addressed in this bill. He said                                                               
that the training classes run two  to four hours and the Food and                                                               
Drug Administration regulates the devices.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  SEEKINS asked  if the  department  had a  position on  the                                                               
bill.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MR. JOHNSON replied the department supports the bill.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR THERRIAULT motioned to pass  CSSB 160(HES) from committee                                                               
with the accompanying fiscal note.  There was no objection and it                                                               
was so ordered.                                                                                                                 

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