Defibrillators Can Be Life Saving Devices – And Often Are Legally Required
A lawsuit has been filed because a teenage girl went into cardiac arrest on an airplane, and died. You may wonder what about that would cause the airline to be liable. The answer is the defibrillator that was on board, but which was also not charged, and thus, inoperable.
What are Defibrillators?
Defibrillators are portable devices, designed to shock the heart into restating. They can be vital to bringing a heart that is in cardiac arrest, into a normal beating pattern.
Defibrillators today are portable, easy to use, and relatively inexpensive. Many even “speak” instructions to users, meaning that any layperson can open and use a defibrillator to help someone else in need.
When Are They Required?
There is no law that requires defibrillators in most places, but common principles of due care dictate that they should be places where cardiac events may be likely to occur, or places where medical attention may be unavailable on an immediate basis.
For example, defibrillators should be present at school sporting events or amusement parks, places where it is possible for cardiac arrest to occur. They also should be present in and on airplanes, as on a plane, there is no access to immediate medical attention.
Defibrillators are also important because they are designed to stop, or help people suffering from, a cardiac arrest—this is different from a heart attack which tends to affect an older population. Cardiac arrest can happen to any person, at any age, making it vital for all businesses to have defibrillators at the ready.
Even when emergency services are available, defibrillators can start the heart faster, meaning oxygen gets to the brain faster, meaning that there is a lowered chance of brain damage after a cardiac event.
But the law requires more than having a defibrillator—it requires that the defibrillator be operable and working, and many are not. Many businesses buy them, and then let them sit, failing to maintain them, or train employees how to use them, or failing to make sure that they are charged up.
Lawsuit Against American Airlines
The lawsuit recently filed against American Airlines, alleges that the defibrillator on board was not charged-like your cell phone, many smaller defibrillators need to be charged. The lawsuit also alleges that the staff aboard the flight were not properly trained in techniques (assumedly, CPR)that would have allowed them to assist the teenager, even in the absence of the defibrillator.
Had the defibrillator been charged and working, the lawsuit alleges, it would have been sufficient to restart the victim’s heart, and he would have lived.
Unlike many areas, where the law does not specifically require defibrillators, on airlines, federal law does require them. The law says that airlines must have defibrillators and must be inspected on a regular basis. They must be in operable order, and immediately ready to attend to emergencies in the sky.
Call the West Palm Beach personal injury attorneys at Pike & Lustig today for help if you have been injured on a plane, or on any one else’s property.