Is a First responder a Good Samaritan?

A first responder to any emergency situation is one who arrives first. As first on scene you may decide to give help if it is needed. There is no obligation to help, however, seeing another human being lying unconscious is kind hard to ignore. Someone may choose not to help simply because they don’t want to be sued. That is a real possibility especially in this day and age. That is why the government has provided us with laws to counteract the onslaught of legal action. The law is known as a Good Samaritan law. It states 4 principles:

1. Must have consent

2. You use reasonable skill and care

3. You are not grossly negligent

4. You do not abandon the person.

1. Must have Consent: In order to get consent you must clearly identify yourself as a first responder and you can help if they wish. Everyone has the right not to be touched and you must respect that right. If the person is conscious then the person will give verbal consent to go ahead and help. However, it becomes harder to get verbal consent when the person is unconscious. The law states that if a person doesn’t respond to your help or doesn’t object to your help then that is known as implied consent and you can go ahead and help. If the injured person is a child then you must ask the legal guardian if you can help before going ahead and helping.

2. You must use reasonable skill and care: It is your duty to assess your own skills to determine whether or not you can perform reasonable care. You cannot give CPR to anyone unless you know the basics or go with caution so as not to aggravate the situation. Do not do anything that is above your understanding. If for example you have taken the CPR years ago and have refreshed and no one else knows CPR then you would reasonable skill to initiate and give adequate CPR.

3. You are not grossly negligent: You will not be sued if you give reasonable to care to someone. The only way you would be sued if you went out of your way to purposefully harm the intended casualty and make matters worse. Use common sense and make sure your actions are in the casualty’s best interest. Just give the care you would want to get if you were in the same situation.

4. You do not abandon the person: Once a casualty has consented to your help implied or otherwise then it is your duty to stay with the person until help arrives or the person no longer wants your help.

As a first responder it is your duty to protect yourself and those around you. In order to keep your self safe assess your surroundings and make sure that there isn’t anything that can harm you, for example a downed power line, or a vicious dog. Make sure the way is clear for you to give help there is no need to make matters worse by making more casualties. Call for help either on your phone or yelling. As long you keep your self and others safe you can adequately help your casualty and turn a tragedy into a life saving opportunity.

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