Rep. Guggisberg’s bill to extend Good Samaritan protections to those who own defibrillators passes Senate

Thursday, March 9

Rep. Guggisberg’s bill to extend Good Samaritan protections to individuals and business owners who own defibrillators passes Senate

(BISMARCK, N.D.) – Today, the Senate unanimously passed HB 1314, a measure introduced by Rep. Ron Guggisberg (D-NPL, Fargo), to remove restrictions that discourage individuals and business owners from purchasing automated external defibrillators (AEDs) and making them available in places of business.

“We should always have liability for gross negligence, but when it comes to life-saving technology like defibrillators, we should carefully examine liability restrictions that might discourage the use of these devices in emergency situations,” said Guggisberg, who also serves as a firefighter in Fargo. “Good Samaritan protections are already in place for individuals who respond to emergencies in responsible ways, and we should extend these protections to business owners and individuals who purchase defibrillators for their businesses or organizations.”     

North Dakota’s Good Samaritan law currently protects individuals who step up in cases of emergency, for example, by providing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) to someone suffering from a heart attack, responding to someone who has fallen and suffered injury, or providing care to someone at the scene of an auto accident. However, current law does not extend similar Good Samaritan protections to individuals and business owners who purchase AEDs for their places of business, organizations or other locations. HB 1314 corrects this problem, thereby making it more likely that an AED will be available during unexpected life-and-death emergencies.       

According to the American Red Cross, sudden cardiac arrest is one of the leading causes of death in the United States with over 350,000 people suffering sudden cardiac arrest each year. Cardiac arrest can occur without warning at any moment, to anyone regardless of age. In these instances, according to the Red Cross, the only effective means for restoring a regular heart rhythm is an AED.

“Good Samaritans are protected when they help their neighbors,” added Guggisberg. “This bill helps those in the community who are willing to step up in another way. Organizations and businesses that purchase and allow for public use of defibrillators will now also be protected.”

HB 1314 previously passed the House on a unanimous, bipartisan vote of 89 “yeas” and 0 “nays.” It passed the Senate this afternoon with all 47 members voting in favor.

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