Defibrillators to be mandatory in all public buildings under Australian-first laws re-introduced by SA-BEST

7 September 2022

Life-saving defibrillators will be mandatory in all public buildings – including schools and universities, libraries, sporting facilities, prisons, local council offices, theatres and swimming pools - which the public has access to under Australian-first legislation re-introduced today by SA-BEST. 

Privately owned buildings – including shopping centres, aged care and retirement villages, commercial properties over 600 square metres in size, and certain residential apartments would also be required to install Automated External Defibrillators (AED) under a Private Member’s Bill by SA-BEST MLC and Treasury and Budget spokesperson, Frank Pangallo. 

Frank’s Automated External Defibrillators (Public Access) Bill 2022 will also make it mandatory for the life-saving devices to be installed in all emergency services vehicles, including SAPOL, the Metropolitan Fire Service, Country Fire Service and State Emergency Service. 

A maximum fine of up to $20,000 would be imposed on those who failed to abide by the new laws, if passed by State Parliament. 

“What value do we put on a life? Automated external defibrillators now sell from about $200 each – an extremely small price for government and the private sector to pay to potentially save lives,” Frank said. 

“The statistics not only speak for themselves but also paint a very disturbing, deadly picture,” he said. 

“More than 30,000 people suffer cardiac arrest in Australia each year - but only one in 10 survive according to the Council of Ambulance Authorities. 

“Worse still, the survival rate for a person who suffers a cardiac arrest out of a hospital environment is only about 10%. 

“It’s an indisputable fact the availability of an AED dramatically improves a person’s chance of survival to 70%. 

“For every minute that defibrillation is delayed, the chance of survival decreases by 10 percent. 

“It has been proven around the world that AED save lives – this Bill will ensure more lives are saved as more defibrillators will be available in the community.” 

Frank was prompted to reintroduce the legislation – which he first introduced in 2019 but decided to let lapse due to a lack of interest from the then Liberal Government – amid the worsening ambulance ramping across the state and the highly-publicised death of a man on Anzac Highway last month who died on the side of the road while waiting for an ambulance. 

He implored the State Government to follow the lead of the Victorian Government which has rolled out more than 1500 new defibrillators to community organisations in recent years. 

In Victoria, it is believed at least two lives a week are saved by the use of AEDs in public locations, while in Singapore it is mandatory for AEDs to be fitted in taxis. 

Under Frank’s proposed new laws, the Minister for Health, Chris Picton, would be required to establish a register of where all the AEDs are located and at what times they are accessible to the public. 

Minister Picton would also need to ensure the same information is available on a software application compatible with smartphones. 

Original Yellow Wiggle, Greg Page, whose own life-saving story thanks to bystanders who knew CPR and the fact there was an AED nearby after he collapsed from a cardiac arrest in 2020 is well-known, is a strong supporter of Frank’s Bill. 

“I am proud to support this innovative move towards legislation of AEDs in the community,” said Greg, who has since founded the charity organisation, Heart of the Nation, whose mission is to raise the survival rate of sudden cardiac arrest. 

“We know that having a complete chain of survival - which includes AEDs - is proven to increase survival rates from sudden cardiac arrest,” he said. 

“So having this Bill passed will go a long way towards helping increase the number of survivors from sudden cardiac arrest.”

Frank’s Australian-first legislation has been inspired by Kangaroo Island-based doctor, Dr Tim Leeuwenburg, who he has met on several occasions. 

Dr Leeuwenburg instigated the HeartSafeKI program on the Island about five year ago which has since culminated in more than 40 defibrillators installed on the Island and 1200 people – about 20% of the Island’s population - trained in CPR. 

It is now one of Australia’s leading “heart-safe” communities. 

Dr Leeuwenburg was motivated to start the program after a high rate of cardiac arrest on KI – in some cases taking up to 17 minutes for paramedics and an ambulance to reach a person who had suffered a heart attack. 

“Ambulance ramping appears to be getting worse, not better, which means more lives are potentially being put at risk,” Frank said. 

“I know of an incident a few weeks back where a woman suffering a heart attack at her home waited more than two hours for an ambulance to arrive,” he said. 

“She was lucky – she survived, but it is completely unacceptable for a person in that condition to have to wait that much time for an ambulance. 

“I am confident the availability of more AED in the community will save many lives – and also save taxpayers millions of dollars in the medium to long term through fewer people needing hospitalisation and extensive rehabilitation after suffering a cardiac arrest.”

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