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A throwback regulation?

Editor's note: In New York, the state Senate passed legislation that would allow EMTs to carry an AED in their personal vehicle for use while off-duty. Editorial Advisor Art Hsieh says being able to start CPR and use an AED as soon as possible is critical to the survival of a patient.

This is a great opportunity for a state government to craft sensible language that, in this case, delivers life saving care to a patient more clearly.

At first blush it seems like the right thing to do. Upstate New York is still made up of mostly rural communities whose EMS needs are provided by volunteer squads. In many situations, responders can be closer to the scene of a cardiac arrest than the ambulance station, and to be able to start CPR and use an AED sooner is critical to the survival of the patient.

If this seems to be common sense, why would there be regulations prohibiting a responder from carrying such a device in a personal vehicle?

My guess is that this regulation is a throwback to a time where an AED was a "new" piece of medical equipment, and had not yet been proven to be effective and safe to deploy.

The research has been abundant since, and the devices have been around long enough to appear in television series. However, regulations change slowly, due to a lack of priority, funding, or opposition from stakeholder groups.

In this case, it sounds like this change has been under way for several years. Hopefully this time it will stick.

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