WHEREAS ventricular fibrillation is the most common cause of cardiac arrest, and is treated with electrical shock using an Automated External Defibrillator (AED); and
WHEREAS approximately 40,000 people in Canada experience a Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) each year, representing one SCA every 12 minutes; and
WHEREAS studies have shown that 92% of Sudden Cardiac Arrest patients may survive if shocked in the first two minutes; and
WHEREAS 75% of Sudden Cardiac Arrest deaths in children occur on school property; and
WHEREAS the Alberta Safety Code and the Alberta School Act do not legislate the placement of AED units in public facilities or schools;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties request the Government of Alberta to amend the Alberta Safety Code to recommend the installation of Automated External Defibrillators in public facilities and schools.
The Council of the Municipal District of Fairview has been presented with information regarding the importance and the lack of Automated External Defibrillators (AED) in Alberta schools. The Sudden Cardiac Arrest death of a local high school student while participating in a school sports function has prompted the establishment of The Project Brock Society. One purpose of the Society is to advocate for the placement of AED units in all schools in Alberta as well as all public facilities. A study of Sudden Cardiac Arrest events in the USA showed a 64% survival rate in schools with AEDs and training compared with the usual 5% survival rate. There are no statistics available for Canada.
The public awareness campaign of the Project Brock Society has brought the importance of the quick use of an AED to the minds of many people. A number of publicly documented incidents where the immediate availability and use of an AED has made a difference to a life have been reported. There are also reports of citizens now keeping AEDs in private residences. While some school divisions in the province have voluntarily adopted a requirement for AEDs in their schools, there is no legislation that currently exists that would ensure their placement in all schools. To implement legislation within the Alberta Safety Code buildings codes and in the Alberta education system would certainly benefit all Albertans, including our students.
The AAMDC has no active resolutions directly related to this issue.
Alberta Municipal Affairs
The Safety Codes Act (SCA) provides appropriate standards for building construction and installation, fire and occupant protection, including safe exits, and a management framework to co?ordinate and administer safety in the built environment. The SCA has no jurisdiction over medical devices and safety codes officers have no expertise in the inspection, design and maintenance of such devices.
The jurisdiction to regulate mandatory placement of defibrillators in public schools and mandatory training is with Alberta Health Services under the Public Health Act and Alberta Jobs, Skills Training and Labour under the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
The Minister of Education does not have legislative authority to amend the building code to provide for placement of automated external defibrillators (AED) in public facilities, including schools. Any new legislation regarding AEDs would not be initiated by Education because it is not the ministry’s mandate. If AED legislation were to be introduced in Alberta, it would likely be initiated by Jobs, Skills, Training and Labour under the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
Schools are required to comply with the Occupational Health and Safety Code. In Alberta’s newest edition of the code that was released in October 2009, AEDs are considered an optional resource. They are not included in the minimum requirements for workplace medical response.
Education staff have been in contact with Mike Hoffman, Manager of National AED Programs at the Heart and Stroke Foundation. The foundation is working toward ensuring that an AED is installed in every school in the province.
A voluntary provincial AED program currently exists in Alberta. Alberta Health Services (AHS) administers a province-wide program called Heart Safe Community – Public Access to Defibrillation. AHS maintains the voluntary registration program, which tracks the locations of AEDs and assists with notifying site coordinators of maintenance due dates. Many companies, municipalities and provincial facilities have already installed AEDs and have registered them with AHS.
AHS emergency medical services (EMS) also has access to the list of AED locations in its database. AHS-EMS dispatch centres are able to provide callers with the nearest AED location, and EMS dispatchers can instruct a caller who is willing to apply an AED to a cardiac arrest victim while waiting for an ambulance to arrive.
More information on AHS’s Heart Safe Community program is available at www.heart-safe.ca.
The Ministry of Health is prepared to consider amendments to relevant legislation or policies to enhance the availability of AEDs in the province.
Alberta Jobs, Skills, Training and Labour
Jobs, Skills, Training and Labour does not support a mandatory requirement for AEDs in public facilities, including schools.
The ministry supports the use of AEDs at the work site, provided the employer ensures AED use is integrated into the first aid program and emergency response plan at the site and can be safely used in the specific environment intended. AEDs are approved for sale as medical devices by Health Canada, and they must be used by competent individuals properly trained in AEDs for equipment that is present at the site. The employer should ensure there is a quality assurance program in place that includes regular maintenance, inspection and record keeping of the equipment.
Each facility should assess its needs and how AEDs would fit with its first aid and emergency plan before authorizing the use of AEDs at the site.
Although the Government of Alberta supports the voluntary use of AEDs in workplaces, the response indicates that there is no willingness to require the mandatory installation of AEDs in public facilities or schools, either through the Alberta Safety Code or other regulatory or legislative means. As such, this resolution is assigned a status of Intent Not Met.