By Diane Ako and Duncan Armstrong
HONOLULU (KHNL) - Life saving defibrillators are becoming more common in public places like malls, condos, and offices. But believe it or not, some companies afraid to install one because they're afraid of somehow getting sued if the victim dies. A new bill would provide protection against that.
A weekend family outing is now a special event for 44 year old Brian Eatmon, who almost died seven months ago while at work at Bubba Gumps. "Next thing I know, I was waking up in the hospital, like why am I here, what's going on? I was told I was at the broiler, took a step back, and collapsed."
Eatmon had a heart attack. A coworker revived him with AEDs, or automatic external defibrillators. "I was in a coma for three days and that following week I was home."
Now, he's a big supporter of having AEDs in public spaces. "If there wasn't any AEDs there or she [the coworker] wasn't working that day, I wouldn't be here today."
He's even become a CPR trainer, to help others have the second chance that he got. "Things change. I'm very grateful I have a second chance to be with my family, especially my son."
You've heard of the Good Samaritan law. It protects from liability those who aid others who are hurt. But what law protects the companies who provide the AEDs, or AED program? There's a new bill - House bill 1537 - that would do that. As with the Good Samaritan law, this is intended to reduce the hesitation to assist, for fear of being sued or prosecuted for unintentional injury or wrongful death.
Representative Tom Brower (D- Waikiki, Kakaako, Ala Moana) co-introduced the bill. "We don't want there to be problems for anyone to use defibrillators and be worried about lawsuits that may result in them."
Don Weisman, Hawaii communications and marketing/ government affairs director at the American Heart Association Pacific/Mountain Affiliate, explained, "There are still lawyers out there who consult with their clients and tell them they have concerns about liability. this law would take away any liability. It clarifies that anyone who establishes an AED program would be immune from lawsuit."
There are hundreds of businesses in Hawaii who could be affected by the bill. Businesses who may be contemplating putting up AEDs in their workplace, who might now do so because of the security this bill would provide.
It would encourage more people to save lives- so that people like Eatmon can get back to theirs. "I can do things with my son, pursue my passion of cooking, have a normal life," he smiled, sitting with his wife and child. "I'm even going to try to open my own catering business."