Seward: Bill Will Help Emts

James L. Seward

June 15, 2005

Local emergency medical technicians will be able to respond to accident scenes and save more lives under legislation passed by the senate, Senator James L. Seward said today.

Seward, chairman of the Senate Task Force on Volunteer Emergency Services, said the state senate has passed S. 4669, which allows EMTs to carry automatic external defibrillators (AEDs) in their personal vehicles.

"This issue was brought to my attention by the Cincinnatus EMS squad," Seward said. "Their first responders were carrying defibrillators as a way to provide quick emergency care when they responded directly to a scene. Minutes matter in an accident or at an emergency, and having the AEDs in their cars saved time. In spite of the obvious benefits of having off duty EMTs possess defibrillators, the Department of Health told the EMS squad it wasn’t legally permissible under current regulations."

Seward noted that EMTs are trained to use AEDs and that having them in more places is only a plus for saving lives in emergency situations -- whether at an accident scene or a heart attack.

In the event of a heart attack, the period of time when treatment is needed before heart damage or death occurs is relatively brief, and Seward said having the defibrillators in the personal vehicles of first responders can speed local response time.

"The legislation expands the freedom of first responding EMTs to carry defibrillators in their personal vehicles so they can save lives off duty and be able to respond directly to the scene of an accident with life saving equipment," Seward said.

The bill essentially overturns current DOH regulations and establishes legal authority for first responding EMTs to possess AEDs in their personal vehicles. It now goes to the assembly.