Legal Update Memo No. 36-2018 – Legislation Requires Districts that Offer Interscholastic Athletic Programs to Acquire Automatic External Defibrillators (“AEDs”) (K-12)

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On September 21, 2018, Governor Brown signed AB 2009 requiring school districts that offer any interscholastic athletic program to acquire at least one Automatic External Defibrillator (“AED”), also known as an Automated External Defibrillator.  The new law adds §§ 35179.4 and 35179.6 to the Education Code.  Both statutes require the affected districts to take certain steps, and encourage other actions by those districts, and also reiterate that districts can get immunity from lawsuits for AED use by complying with pre-existing statutes.  Most of the legislation takes effect January 1, 2019, although the requirement to acquire an AED does not take effect until July 1, 2019.

An AED is a portable device that can be used to provide emergency treatment for cardiac arrhythmias (i.e., heartbeat irregularities).  The AED diagnoses an arrhythmia and applies electrical therapy to correct the arrhythmia, allowing the heart to reestablish an effective rhythm.  It is intended to be used by non-medical personnel who have been trained in its use.

In 2014, the Legislature adopted AB 2217, which added Education Code § 49417, authorizing school districts to solicit private funds to acquire and maintain one or more AED units.  Any funds solicited can be used only to purchase and maintain AED units, and to provide training to school employees for their use.

Our Legal Update No. 35-2014, which discussed AB 2217, went into some detail about the various statutes and the Title 22 regulation governing ownership and maintenance of an AED.  To avoid lengthening this Update by repeating those details, we instead attach a copy of LU 35-2014.  That Update also summarized the requirements that must be followed in order for a public entity to qualify for immunity from a lawsuit for using an AED

Besides the requirement of acquiring at least one AED, the new legislation has various other provisions affecting school entities that offer interscholastic athletic programs. These provisions include:

1)   Districts must ensure that a written emergency action plan is in place and posted, describing the location and procedures to be followed in the event of sudden cardiac arrest or other medical emergencies related to the athletic program’s activities or events.

2)   Districts are encouraged to ensure that an AED or AEDs are available to render emergency treatment within three to five minutes of sudden cardiac arrest to pupils, spectators, and anyone else attending an athletic program or event.

3)   Districts must ensure that the AED or AEDs are available to trainers, coaches, and other authorized persons at the program or event.

4)   Districts must ensure that the AED or AEDs are maintained and regularly tested (which, as can be seen from the 2014 Update, is also a requirement for districts to benefit from the lawsuit immunity).


In 2014, we advised that Districts should carefully consider whether to use the then-new statute to solicit funds to acquire an AED.  Apart from the 2018 legislation, there is no legal requirement that districts obtain such devices.  Districts that offer interscholastic athletic programs, of course (even elementary school districts) will have to acquire an AED by next July 1 to comply with the new law.

A district that acquires an AED should consult with legal counsel about the full range of obligations it must comply with in order to benefit from the lawsuit immunity discussed in LU 35-2014.  Our office also strongly encourages districts to consult with their insurance carriers about coverage in case of an AED-related issue.

Legal Update written by Frank Zotter, Jr., Senior Associate General Counsel.

Please contact our office with questions regarding this Legal Update or any other legal matter.

The information in this Legal Update is provided as a summary of law and is not intended as legal advice.  Application of the law may vary depending on the particular facts and circumstances at issue.  We, therefore, recommend that you consult legal counsel to advise you on how the law applies to your specific situation.

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