With less than 48-hours notice, Governor Tommy Thompson signed AB 239 the public access defibrillation bill into law. The bill had been awaiting the Governor’s signature for six weeks. Very little advanced notice was given prior to the signing which took place yesterday at the home of Paul & Laurie Riemerin Siren, Wisconsin. Thompson signed several other bills at the same time. 

   The Governor’s office apologized for the late notification and the lack of a more central location citing a very hectic schedule for the Governor and the urgency of the bill as reasons. The bill now becomes law making it legal for anyone with training under a Department of Health and Family Services approved program to perform defibrillation as long as the conditions of AB 239 are met.

   Some private and public organizations in Wisconsin already have their defibrillators purchased and their training completed. This means that Wisconsin ambulance services and first responders may begin encountering public access defibrillation in the field shortly. The state EMS Office is preparing information for ambulance services to help aid them in a smooth transition to the use of public access defibrillation. The bill has put at question the issue of how the law relates to First Responders.

   Preliminary information appears to show that First Responders may actually have more immunity and protection under the new AED law than as First Responder-Defibrillation licensed responders. Operation of defibrillators by First Responders meeting the criteria of the new law is legal and permissible and may actually be recommended over obtaining FR-D certification.

   However, before First Responders drop their current certification, they should be aware that legislation will be introduced shortly that, if passed, will require certification of all First Responders in Wisconsin.