Nova Scotia

Defibrillator liability to be clarified, reduced by Nova Scotia amendment

The amendment to the Volunteer Services Act is intended to alleviate any fears people may have about using an automatic external defibrillator, or AED.

Change to Volunteer Services Act aimed at reducing liability concerns about using AEDs

Jeff Fraser, director of provincial operations for Emergency Health Services, says the amendment provides peace of mind. (Submitted by Jeff Fraser)

A bill that could help save lives is making its way through the Nova Scotia Legislature.

The amendment to the Volunteer Services Act aims to alleviate any fears the public may have about using an automatic external defibrillator, known as an AED.

"A lot of people were scared to use them because they weren't sure of a liability issue," said Keith Bain, the MLA for Victoria-The Lakes, who introduced the bill. "What the bill does is relieve any individual or an organization that has an AED from being liable."

That includes volunteers who use an AED and any organization whose AED is used. 

Bain said he isn't aware of any legal issues surrounding the use of an AED, but the bill is a precaution to ensure no one holds back from using the device in an emergency.

"We just didn't want to take a chance, because we all know how important an AED is in saving lives," he said.

Provincial registry

Jeff Fraser, the director of provincial operations for Emergency Health Services, said the bill is a great clarification, as EHS has received lots of questions.

"People were asking, 'If I use this machine and there's an adverse event, am I liable for that?'" said Fraser. "This will add peace of mind for those wondering about coverage."

Bain said another benefit is that all AEDs will be placed on a provincial registry, allowing an organization without a device to locate one nearby, if needed. 

Fraser thinks the amendment will help get more AEDs into circulation. 

"It's a great move, and we'll get this program more mobile in our communities," he said.

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