In 2019 I reported on A Bill to require installation of AEDs in South Australia (October 29, 2019). In that post I said:
Private member’s Bills rarely succeed, and it is unlikely that the government would want to accept a Bill that would impose significant costs on the government to develop the register, public awareness campaign and training requirements as well as installing AEDs in all emergency service owned vehicles. My guess is that this Bill will never become law, but assuming that it does I can turn to the questions asked:
Well I was wrong about that. The Automated External Defibrillator (Public Access) Bill 2002 was passed by the SA Parliament on 30 November 2022 and is now awaiting Assent by the Governor to become law (and I thank ‘The Paramedic Observer’ for drawing this to my attention). The Act will come into force for government agencies (‘the Crown’) on 1 January 2025 (s 2), and for everyone else on 1 January 2026 (Schedule 1), giving time for necessary regulations to be written and for Automate External Defibrillators (AEDs) to be purchased and installed.
The Act refers to a ‘designated building or facility’ which means (s 3 definition of ‘public building’ and s 5)
- Public building or facility (such as a public swimming pool, library, local government office or town hall);
- Sporting facility listed in the regulations;
- School, tertiary education or skills training facility;
- Correctional facility;
- Custodial police station;
- Retirement village;
- Residential aged care facility;
- Caravan park;
- Residential park;
- Casino or other gambling facility;
- Commercial building; or
- Other building types listed in the regulations.
The term ‘prescribed building’ means (s 5)
- Any building ‘used for commercial purposes’ built or subject to major works after the commencement of the Act (1 January 2026) if the building has a floor space greater than 600m2; or
The owner of a ‘relevant designated building or facility or prescribed building’ must install at least one AED, and one AED ‘for every 1 200 m2 of floor area of the building or facility’ (s 7(1)) Not all ‘designated’ or ‘prescribed’ buildings are caught by the obligation to install an AED.. The obligation applies to a ‘relevant designated building or facility or prescribed building’ (emphasis added) which means (s 7(7)):
… a designated building or facility or prescribed building that—
(a) is on land used for commercial purposes; and
(b) has a floor area of more than 1 200 m2’
I’m not sure if or where a ‘custodial police station’, ‘correctional facility’ or even a ‘local government office is ‘on land used for commercial purposes’. If they do not meet that requirement, then it appears the obligation to install the AED will not apply to them creating an anomaly as they are listed as a ‘designated building or facility’ (s 4) but not a ‘relevant designated building or facility’ (s 7).
The Chief Officers of the South Australian Country Fire Service, the South Australian Metropolitan Fire Service, the South Australian State Emergency Service and any other prescribed organisation as well as the owner of any train, tram, public bus or other prescribed vehicle must ensure that AEDs are installed in all of their vehicles (s 8).
A person required to install an AED in a building or vehicle must ensure that the AED is maintained and tested every 12 months (s 9).
In buildings there must be signs near the AED and, if the AED is inside the building there must be a sign outside and near to the entrance to the building, indicating that an AED is ‘nearby’. For vehicles there must be a sign on the vehicle indicating that there is an AED in the vehicle (s 10).
The Minister is required to maintain a register of the AEDs installed as required by the Act. The register must record where the AED is located and when it may be accessed (s 12). That information must be published on a website (s 12(3)) and made available via a smartphone application (s 13). Anyone required to install an AED must provide those details information to the Minister within 14 days of installation (s 12(4)).
The Minister must develop a public information strategy to inform people how to locate an AED and to confirm that people do not need to be trained to use them (s 14). Even though people do not need to be trained to use an AED the Minister must establish a training scheme for people required to complete first aid training by either the Education and Care Services National Law (South Australia) or the Work Health and Safety Act 2012 (s 15). The Minister must provide a report to the Parliament within 6 months of the Act receiving assent (ie before it comes into full effect) explaining ‘how the Government will provide support to persons who are required by this Act to install an Automated External Defibrillator’ (s 18).
It will be an offence to damage or remove an AED unless it is removed, or the damage occur, whilst it is being used to ‘treat a person who the defendant reasonably believed to be suffering from cardiac arrest’ (s 16).
In my earlier post I said:
The Bill does not require anyone to actually use the devices should the need arise. Even though the Bill is called the Automated External Defibrillators (Public Access) Bill 2019 there is nothing in the proposed Bill to say that the AEDs, once installed, actually have to be made available to the public.
Those comments are equally applicable to the 2022 Bill.
The Bill has passed Parliament. It now awaits assent from the South Australian Governor. One that has happened, the Minister will have 6 months to deliver the report explaining ‘how the Government will provide support to persons who are required by this Act to install an Automated External Defibrillator’. The Minister will also have to attend to drafting necessary regulations, developing the website and smartphone application and the necessary training program.
Government departments will have until 1 January 2025 to install AEDs in compliance with the Act; everyone else will have until 1 January 2026.
This blog is made possible with generous financial support from the Australasian College of Paramedicine, the Australian Paramedics Association (NSW), Natural Hazards Research Australia, NSW Rural Fire Service Association and the NSW SES Volunteers Association. I am responsible for the content in this post including any errors or omissions. Any opinions expressed are mine, and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or understanding of the donors.