All associations, especially those with swimming pools or clubhouses, should consider installing automated external defibrillators, or AEDs. Recent studies show that quick use of AED units substantially increases the rate of survival of victims of heart attack. AEDs are now widely accepted in the airline, health, and fitness industries and are appearing more and more frequently in residential and commercial settings, as well as within places of employment. To encourage the ownership and use of AEDs, the Ohio State Legislature has enacted laws limiting liability for volunteers who use AEDs in emergencies.
In Ohio, an individual who acts to protect another in an emergency situation is not liable for any injury or harm to the person unless the volunteer fails to exercise due care under the circumstances. Ohio Revised Code Section 2305.235 states that “no person shall be held liable in civil damages for injury, death, or loss to person or property, or held criminally liable, for performing automated external defibrillation in good faith, regardless of whether the person has obtained appropriate training.” Liability is limited to willful and wonton misconduct or to those who make “no good faith effort to attempt to activate an emergency medical system.” This means that so long as the volunteer uses good faith in their attempt to use the AED, they will not be held liable if the good faith effort results in damage or a loss.
If an association is considering installing an AED, encourage expected users of the AED, such as lifeguards to complete a course in how to use the machine. The AED should also be maintained and tested in accordance with manufacturer’s guidelines. It is also wise to notify local emergency medical service organization of the location of the device. Finally, emergency instructions should also be posted on or near the AED. This way, an untrained volunteer responder has access to instructions including calling 9-1-1, and specific, step by step instructions for use of the AED.
The cost of an AED is minor compared to the priceless life of an owner it may save.