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AED Certification required for use

Effective January 1, 2027, a recent law (AB 1467) passed in California mandates the presence and accessibility of Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) during athletic events organized by youth sports organizations. This is a great step forward and we would presume the four-year implementation timeline is to allow organizations plenty of time to fund and implement these new AEDs, as on-field cardiac arrest is a major killer of school-age athletes.

Most schools and larger sports organizations already have AED’s, and this law aims to place them in the remaining places left without. Four years seems longer than necssary, and could be implyied as a lack of urgency to protect young athletes, though at the moment of this post (July, 2023) there is an ongoing national AED shortage.

This new law, known as the Nevaeh Youth Sports Safety Act, defines a “youth sports organization” as an entity, be it a business, nonprofit organization, or local governmental agency, that sponsors or conducts amateur sports competitions, training, camps, or clubs involving individuals aged 17 or younger.

However, it is important (and quite frankly, frightening) to note that the law imposes certain restrictions on who can utilize the AEDs provided at these youth sports events. Surprisingly, only individuals meeting specific criteria, such as medical professionals, designated coaches, or others authorized by the youth sports organization, with AED certification, and those in compliance with federal and state regulations, can operate the AEDs. It is worth mentioning that the bill states “…that its athletes have access to an AED during any official practice or match…”. Is this to suggest that if an athlete who is not certified in CPR and AED use is witness to anothers cardiac arrest, that they will have “access to” an AED, but not be allowed to use it?

Time is probably the greatest factor in changing outcomes in cases of cardiac arrest and waiting for “certiied” responders to uses the AED is a grossly negligent and uninformed oversight by the authors of this bill.

This absurd limitation is obviously problematic when considering scenarios where a certified coach may be distant from the incident, potentially leaving bystanders able to access and legally prohibitted from using a nearby AED. Instead, they would have to wait until the coach arrives at the scene of a sudden cardiac arrest. This restriction disregards the ease of use of AEDs and the fact that they are designed for deployment by any willing and able lay-rescuer.

AB 1467 is an important step in the vital proliferation of publicly available AEDs, but the AED use limitation lacks a compelling public health or public policy rationale. Furthermore, there is a genuine concern that this restriction might be interpreted as discouraging bystanders from performing CPR as well. Let’s hope the legislature will address and rectify this issue before the law’s effective date in 2027. For more details, read the Senate Floor Analyses.

CPR Education does sell AED’s for both commercial and private home or office use. Feel free to reach out with questions, or to purchase an AED.