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If certified in CPR are you required to help in an emergency situation? And if you don't can you be sued? Answered

I am considering CPR certification and I am aware of the "Good Samaritan Law" that protects you from lawsuits for trying to help a victim and failing to save their life.  My concern is, are you bound by the law to help in every emergency situation that arises?  If I choose not to intervene are there legal ramifications?



Best Answer 8 years ago

No. you don't HAVE to help. It's not an obligation, bt can you live with yourself knowing that someone may have died, with you knowing you could have saved them? (Sorry for the guilt trip, i apologize)

At the time, nobody, save yourself, knows that you are certified. Usually. Even when it is known, you may be pressured to help by bystanders, but nothing can force you to. Not the law at any rate, friends are  little less leinient. (Again, guilt trip, sorry)

For refrence, the good samaritan law, as I understand it, does not only protect you if they die, but if they live with injuries or disabilities. It does not protect against malicious intent however. Usually, if the victim dies, it should not fall on your shoulders due to the fact you tried to help. If your "helping" caused them more trauma, and speeded their departure from the mortal plane, then ramifications might arise.

CPR, as you know is a traumatic thing to happen to a person. You're pressing, with force, on a person's chest. Ribs break, and things move. If tere's injury, it could make it worse but the other possibility has an even worse surival rate.

In the end, it's all up to you.

FINAL NOTE: I am not a physician, lawyer, or even expert in things CPR. But having taken several courses over the past years, I am familiar enough to know my way around.

 if the situation requires your expertise and no one else can do it YES i am also CPR certified and I do search and rescue and I havent had a lawsuit yet by following that tidbit of info

In psychology, there is a well known phenomenon called the by-stander effect.  It states that the odds that someone will offer help is inversely proportional to the number of witnesses; the more people are standing around, the more likely they will just stand around.

I won't tell you to be the hero of the day, but the first step you will be taught in CPR is to ask loudly of passers-by if any of them know CPR.  There are several reasons.  First, someone who knows CPR and is willing to help may assume that, by you asking, you don't know CPR; this will create a sense of urgency.  Second, you may be within earshot of a physician - and that's a great stroke of luck.  Third, there is a two-man CPR method that is more efficient, and therefore more successful, than one-man CPR.  Also, two-man CPR will be less strenuous and result in less fatigue should you need to wait awhile before help arrives.

In any event, I encourage you to learn CPR because I feel it's a skill everyone should have (perhaps my experience as a Boy Scout actually did make a difference - hmm).  Unless laws have changed since I was certified (admittedly about 5 years ago) the Good Samaritan Law protects you from pretty much all liability (even if you do something wrong) so long as you made every effort to gain involvement from a more qualified person.  The law provides for the fact that there are plenty of cases where there may be no one around that knows proper rescue techniques including yourself, and therefore it's better to do something than nothing.

Does that mean you should just start pumping away on some guy that passed out on the sidewalk?  Absolutely not, you must first try and get help.  If no one steps up, you can do whatever you have to do.

Will anyone blame you for not coming forward?  Probably not, other than yourself, but let he who is without sin cast the first stone.

And if there are other people available who know CPR, you can always volunteer to be the one who calls 911. (Remember, the standard phrase is "Not breathing, no pulse, call 911!" and it's darned hard to call 911 and do CPR simultaneously. Though maybe with cellphones and speakerphone mode it's almost possible.

All my certifications lapsed <mumble> years ago -- I stopped refreshing when they "dumbed down" the first aid and CPR classes. Someone's trying to start an "emergency preparedness" program in my area; I need to check into that and find out whether it's just shelter management and disaster evaluation (two Red Cross classes that very few people take) or if it includes "EMT assistant" training.

Yeah, I know what you mean by "dumbing down" the CPR classes.  I originally certified in CPR when I gained my First Aid merit badge as a kid in Boy Scouts.  Then, I recertified when I was 15 because my little brother was diagnosed with CF, and again when I briefly worked as a caretaker in an assisted-living home.  I knew more from my training as a Boy Scout than what they covered in the following two classes combined.

I think it was about two years ago that they officially lowered the number of rescue breaths between chest compressions.  I suppose there's more success in focusing on beating the heart, as fewer breaths still supply enough oxygen to be effective.  I really should recertify, but I'd like to know it'll be adequate.

From what I've heard, the latest advice for solo CPR is _just_ chest compressions. Apparently between the fact that there's a fair amount of O2 still in the bloodstream (just not in the brain, which consumes it faster than anything else does) and the fact that compressing the chest can cause _some_ amount of air exchange, compressions-only has been demonstrated to be equally effective, or close enough as makes no difference... and it's supposed to be easier to keep going for long times if you aren't burning energy jumping back and forth.

C-R, no P, seems plausible to me... but we won't know for sure until we've got several years' worth of statistics.

It is different for every jurisdiction.  Some places are required for you to help even without training.  Some places it is your choice to help, training or not. 

Often the good Samaritan law/act(s) protect you; but really its still up to you in the end. 

Also - if you were in the situation, would YOU sleep at night if you did nothing?

What is your motivation for CPR certification?  If it is for the sake of a family member by all means get certified, if you want to help others- seek higher levels of certification/training also- Advanced First Aid, EMT, Paramedic, CNA, RN, Physician, etc. 
Also- make sure you protect yourself from diseases strangers are carrying- methods should be taught in CPR class.  Remember that the main purpose of CPR training is to help people think and act in an emergency rather than panic.  
In a crowd of strangers who would know what training you have had?  As far as implied obligation because of certification(s) that varies by state- your CPR course will also cover this topic.  
If your job doesn't require certification nothing says you have to pass the final test to receive the card-  most instructors don't like this as they take it personally if a student fails- but that is their problem not yours.
By-the-by,  I do CPR as an integral part of my profession. 

Bigev deserves best answer.  In the U.S., there is no requirement that a civilian intervene, whether they are trained or not.  It is strictly your choice; if you're properly trained, presumably you can judge whether intervening is safe or not.