Today’s correspondent says:

I have been sent your information via the Restart a Heart Day on the 16th October, I want to notify my staff to encourage them to actively engage with members in their community to spread the word on what to do in an emergency. I myself plan on delivering information within my community on that day also, this is where my queries come in and if you can guide me that would be great.

  1. Can any member of the public remove an AED from let’s say the local shopping centre/Sports club and use it say two buildings away without it being classed as stealing? As this program states locate where your nearest one is in case of an emergency! You wouldn’t be able to take the casualty to the AED?
  2. AED’s does not state on them not for use under one years old, what if someone used it on a casualty under the age of one, would that person be sued?
  3. A casualty with NFR (Not for Resuscitation) tattooed on their chest and you use an AED, I teach you can’t be sued without sighting the legal document as this is First Aid not within your employed role such as an Age Care Facility where one might come into play.
  4. Is there a recommendation to how many AED’s should be placed in any given location i.e. one per every twenty people?
  5. CPR on an Infant states two fingers for compressions in the training package, Midwives like to use thumbs as opposed to fingers and this is much more productive. Are trainers allowed to teach thumbs if fingers are what is stated in the training package

Question 1

Larceny or stealing is defined by the common law (see Ilich v R [1987] HCA 1 ([10] Wilson and Dawson JJ) as:

… a person who, without the consent of the owner, fraudulently and without a claim of right made in good faith, takes and carries away anything capable of being stolen with intent, at the time of such taking, permanently to deprive the owner thereof.

An AED is not a single use item.  Provided the person intend to give it back after it’s been used, they are not intending to ‘permanently to deprive the owner thereof’.   To take something ‘fraudulently’ is to be dishonest (see Eburn, Howie, Sattler and Hood, Hayes and Eburn Criminal Law and Procedure in NSW (Lexis/Nexis, 5th ed, 2016) pp. 327-335).  A person taking an AED to use it as intended is not I suggest acting ‘dishonestly’.   Where it is a publicly accessible AED the consent of the owner to take it and use it as intended may be implied.  In other circumstances see Breaking, enter and take AED? (February 13, 2019).

Taking an AED and using it for the purpose for which it was made will not be stealing.

Question 2

Would that person be sued? Getting sued is not automatic.  Someone has to think there has been an injury that would not have been suffered if the defendant had not done what they had done.  They have to think that it is worth suing someone and it’s not worth suing someone with no money.  “Good Samaritans” are protected by law in every state and territory other than Queensland so if their actions were ‘in good faith’ there would be no liability (see Good Samaritan legislation – a comparison (February 22, 2017)).  One can never say never but would they be sued – I would say the chance of being sued is so low as to be as close to zero as one could imagine.  All you can do is your best and if you’re an untrained person who has received the advice to grab an AED and follow the instructions all you can do is grab an AED and follow the instructions.

Question 3

See all the posts that appear here:

But a first aider, or a paramedic, or a doctor has to guess what NFR means – does the patient mean ‘not for resuscitation’ or are they their initials?  What do they mean by ‘resuscitation’?  NFR is much more ambiguous than ‘NO cardio-pulmonary resuscitation’ (see More on DNR tattoos (January 30, 2018)).

That ‘you can’t be sued without sighting the legal document as this is First Aid not within your employed role such as an Age Care Facility where one might come into play’ is not accurate. Of course, a person can be sued – but they are unlikely to be sued for the reasons given in answer to question 1.  There is no obligation to sight the ‘legal document’ because the concept of a legal document doesn’t mean anything – see What is a ‘legal document’? (February 23, 2017).  A tattoo on someone’s chest is as much a ‘legal document’ as a document prepared and witnessed by their lawyer, the difference is the confidence one may have in what it means (hopefully the one prepared by their lawyer is not ambiguous).

For a more complete answer see Withholding resuscitation in first aid (November 21, 2017).

Question 4

Not that I am aware of.  I can’t imagine any sensible recommendation (if there was one) would be as low as 1 AED for every 20 people.  In any given day in a room of 200 probably no-one will have a cardiac arrest. The chance of 10 people having a sudden cardiac arrest is far-fetched and fanciful.

For further discussion see

Question 5

That’s not really an emergency law question, that’s a question about the role of Registered Training organisations and their obligation to deliver training and to assess a candidate against the competencies.  One would hope that the training package has ‘best practice’ for the intended audience.  Midwives have different levels of skill and experience compared to your average ‘first aider’ and so just because they may use one technique does not mean it should be taught to others- doctors and paramedics no doubt do things differently to the way it’s taught in a first aid course too, but that doesn’t mean an RTO can or should encourage people to act like a doctor or a paramedic.

I suppose it really depends on how the competency is described and what’s being assessed but as I say they are not really questions for this blog.