Moving through Fear. Why people, even people with training, will choose not to help someone in a First-Aid need.
There are still many people that are genuinely and gravely concerned with getting sued for trying to help someone in a First-Aid need.
In Canada we have the Good Samaritan Act There are minor variances from one province to another but they are all the same in essence, with some exception to Quebec.
The three major points to keep in mind when thinking about meeting the statute and avoiding any successful lawsuit from trying to help another in a First-Aid need are:
1. Act with good intention
2. Do the best you can, given the circumstances, to the level of your training.
3. Do not seek out financial compensation for your efforts.
In general Good Samaritan laws offer legal protection to people who give reasonable assistance to those who are, or who they believe to be, injured, ill, in danger, or otherwise incapacitated. The protection is intended to reduce bystanders’ hesitation to assist, for fear of being sued or prosecuted for unintentional injury or wrongful death. No one in the history of Canadian law has ever been successfully sued for trying to help another in a First-Aid who were meeting the 3 points mentioned above.
Do we have to help? The simple answer is “No”. If you were the cause of the injury or hazardous situation then you better act to the fullest of your trained ability or it could be considered criminally negligent. We would now have a “Duty to rescue”.
A “Duty to Rescue” law requires people to offer assistance and holds those who fail to do so liable. This exists in Quebec. The expectation in Quebec is that you will at least call 911. Again, if you were the cause of the injury or hazardous situation then you better act to the fullest of your trained ability.
Obtaining consent: This is another legal requirement. Before we help anyone we must have their consent. If they are unconscious we have implied consent to assist them with First-Aid. There is conscious implied consent. This is done by telling them what you are going to do before you do it, if they are given time to respond with “no” and do not; you have conscious implied consent. One of the best ways to obtain consent is to introduce yourself, inform them that you are trained in First-Aid and ask if they want your help. If they agree to your assistance all other actions and contact necessary to assist them is on- going implied consent.
Do you need consent to call an Ambulance – No. Paramedics can not transport with out patient consent. Taking someone against their will is considered kidnapping.
If the patient refuses transport and the paramedics feel that this person is a direct and immediate threat to themselves or the general public the police are called to intervene.
AED Automated External Defibrillator or PAD Public Access Defibrillator fall under the Chase McEachern Act. Anyone in Ontario can use an AED without fear of successful prosecution regardless of the outcome.
If you have any questions related legislation as it applies to First-Aid please do not hesitate to contact TTM.
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