New Italian AED laws celebrare la vita
July 28 2021 was a watershed date for Italy. After years of campaigning, the Italian Resuscitation Council’s proposals to improve Italy’s ability to save lives from sudden cardiac arrest became law.
Celebrare la vita is Italian for “celebrate life” – which is exactly what Italy’s new AED (automated external defibrillator) laws do.
These new laws have been a long time coming. For example, to improve out-of-hospital cardiac arrest response rates, the European Society of Cardiology was calling for non-certified Italians to be allowed to use AEDs in early 2018.
It had also been widely recognised that Italy was lagging in its ability to meet the European Resuscitation Council’s Systems Saving Lives guidelines for out-of-hospital cardiac arrest response systems. By limiting access to public access defibrillation, for example, Italy was missing a critical piece in its ability to save lives from cardiac arrest.
Systems Saving Lives
Italy’s parliament has taken Systems Saving Lives to heart, becoming the first to enshrine the European code of practice into law. Under the legislation:
1. AEDs will be mandatory in all government buildings, infrastructure, and public transport.
2. Public place administrators will also need to maintain PAD (public access defibrillator) networks…
3. …this includes mandatory availability of AEDs at sporting events.
4. People who step in to help with CPR and AEDs are now protected under law – essentially, a Good Samaritan law as it’s known in other parts of the world – addressing the too-infrequent use of AEDs in emergencies in Italy.
5. AED and CPR education in become mandatory in schools, for students aged 10-18 and all associated staff.
6. A national register of AEDs will be established and maintained by Emergency Medical Services (EMS). This will be the beginnings of a national PAD network.
7. An Italian volunteer first responder program will be created – in recognition of the positive impact the likes of GoodSam, St John and Heartrunner have had on out-of-hospital cardiac arrest survival.
8. October 16 will be established as Italy’s new cardiac arrest awareness day.
Massive step forward
Establishment of any one of these eight initiatives would represent a significant leap forward in out-of-hospital cardiac arrest preparedness.
To be introducing all at the same time, demonstrates the Italian parliament recognition of the impact of cardiac arrest, and its commitment to doing something about it.
At the heart of these initiatives is a common theme: education.
Actively and passively, these initiatives work in concert to improve public awareness of sudden cardiac arrest, and the opportunity for every individual to become part of the solution.
This new law recognises the awareness is the first, and most important, step to saving lives from sudden cardiac arrest.