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Thread: "Good Samaritan laws" and medic certifications

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    "Good Samaritan laws" and medic certifications

    I know several states have "Good Samaritan laws" in place which prevent lawsuits etc coming the way of civilians who stop to render medical assistance to people in need, but somehow make things worse. I do not know if there are still places which have laws that rendering medical assistance when not certified can be a crime. If so this question is directed to those places..

    This came about from tonight's NCIS episode where a navy corpswoman treated 3 crash victims after a car wreck, but in the county they were in, anyone NOT certified to render medical assistance is in violation of the law.
    So part of the issue they had IN that episode, was apparently (for the show at least, not sure if its real, though i DID remember hearing a few HM3s complain about this back in 97-98 time frame), that even though Navy corpsmen, who get the same training etc as Army and AF medics, DON'T get "certification in Basic EMT" when they hit the civilian sector.

    So if a corpsman (or as the show had corpswoman) passed a wreck and rendered assistance they would be breaking the law. Which to me is bass ackwards. i would think people would want to make it easier to step up and help, not the other way around.

    So first question.
    Are Army/AF medics different from Navy Corpsmen in what certifications they gain when retiring/getting out? If so why?

    2- Are you for or against good Samaritan laws? Please give a reason for or against..

    3- if YOU were in a situation, where to render assistance would be breaking the law, would you risk jail time (or a fine/community service etc) to render assistance and save a life?

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    Can't answer #1.
    #2 - I'm for good samaritan laws, but I believe the person rendering aid should have training. Depending on the injury, a good samartin could make things much worse.
    #3 - I wouldn't be thinking about any possible jail time, so to answer your question I guess I would risk it.

    I know many of us have been stationed in Europe. In many of those countries, as it was briefed, I didn't actually read the law, it is against the law to not stop and render aid. So, you could get in trouble for not helping. I'm not sure how I feel about that for the reason I gave in #2.

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    Banned sandsjames's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mata Leao View Post
    Can't answer #1.
    #2 - I'm for good samaritan laws, but I believe the person rendering aid should have training. Depending on the injury, a good samartin could make things much worse.
    #3 - I wouldn't be thinking about any possible jail time, so to answer your question I guess I would risk it.

    I know many of us have been stationed in Europe. In many of those countries, as it was briefed, I didn't actually read the law, it is against the law to not stop and render aid. So, you could get in trouble for not helping. I'm not sure how I feel about that for the reason I gave in #2.
    I think it's actually different, too, for those who have medical training but aren't licensed and those who don't have medical training at all. I believe that the average person is protected, while the person with medical training is not.

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    Senior Member LogDog's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by garhkal View Post
    I know several states have "Good Samaritan laws" in place which prevent lawsuits etc coming the way of civilians who stop to render medical assistance to people in need, but somehow make things worse. I do not know if there are still places which have laws that rendering medical assistance when not certified can be a crime. If so this question is directed to those places..

    This came about from tonight's NCIS episode where a navy corpswoman treated 3 crash victims after a car wreck, but in the county they were in, anyone NOT certified to render medical assistance is in violation of the law.
    So part of the issue they had IN that episode, was apparently (for the show at least, not sure if its real, though i DID remember hearing a few HM3s complain about this back in 97-98 time frame), that even though Navy corpsmen, who get the same training etc as Army and AF medics, DON'T get "certification in Basic EMT" when they hit the civilian sector.

    So if a corpsman (or as the show had corpswoman) passed a wreck and rendered assistance they would be breaking the law. Which to me is bass ackwards. i would think people would want to make it easier to step up and help, not the other way around.

    So first question.
    Are Army/AF medics different from Navy Corpsmen in what certifications they gain when retiring/getting out? If so why?

    2- Are you for or against good Samaritan laws? Please give a reason for or against..

    3- if YOU were in a situation, where to render assistance would be breaking the law, would you risk jail time (or a fine/community service etc) to render assistance and save a life?
    1. I don't know if there is a difference between the medics in the services but I'm sure there are differences between what treatment each can do. For example, an independent medical technician can provide more services to a patient than a medical technician working on a medical ward.

    2. Good Samaritan Laws are good, IMO, because they don't discourage people from becoming involved when someone else is injured and requires immediate help. The key with Good Samaritan Laws for the individual to provide assistance that is within their knowledge/experience level. For example, if you know basic first aid and come upon someone who has an obstructed airway you can do what is expected to clear the airway. What you cannot do, unless you're a doctor or medically trained professional, is to perform a tracheotomy.

    3. I would. In some instances, such as a person requiring immediate medical attention, rendering assistance is an instinctive human reaction. As long as you're not attempting to do more than what you know there should be no consequences for the help you are rendering.

    I would hate to think we, as a society, would turn our backs on those who are injured and requiring assistance. I've see a traffic accident in which a pickup truck overturned and I, along with about five other drivers, pulled the guy out of the truck and gave him first aid until the paramedics arrived. It would be a sad day if you're driving along and come upon a wreck and no one is stopping to help the victim(s).

    We have a legal duty and a moral duty to our fellow man. In most cases, our legal duty is our moral duty.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sandsjames View Post
    I think it's actually different, too, for those who have medical training but aren't licensed and those who don't have medical training at all. I believe that the average person is protected, while the person with medical training is not.
    This is my understanding as well.

    Someone in the medical profession may also have a duty to act, whereas us civilians do not...which is why the protection is afforded.

    I'm not sure why anyone would be against a Good Samaritan law...as mentioned, the key is to keep it within your relative area of knowledge.

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    I was in a Chick-fil-A a couple of years ago and removed food from the throat of a choking toddler with my fingers, technically a no-no for persons under eight years old.

    The mother had tried the normal methods of dislodging the food and by the time I stepped in the kid was turning blue, and the mother was panicking to the extreme.

    I had the kid on his side on the table top and was looking in to his mouth, as soon as I stuck my finger in his mouth to swipe at the chunk, some Nerdly-do-right fucker started yelling for me not to do that.

    I ignored him and got the kid's airway cleared, he was fine, and I'm glad I wasn't timid about helping.

    Wouldn't you know, old Nerdly-do-right comes over and starts lecturing me about first aid, and good Samaritan laws. I can't even remember exactly what this guy was saying, and I was a bit keyed up from the adrenalin rush of getting involved with something like that.

    It turned nasty, and I stopped his lecture by wiping my partially-chewed-chicken-nugget-and-toddler-spit covered index finger on Nerdly-do-right's shirt.

    I can't tell you if this guy knew what the fuck he was talking about, but doing nothing, or trying what hadn't worked didn't seem like an option.

    I'm glad I did what I did. If I had knocked the food deeper into his throat, I'm sure that I would have had a hard time living with myself, but I'm glad I ignored some jerkoff character who seemed obsessed with some goofy shit about Samaritan laws he saw on a TV show.
    All behold that fancy strutting peacock, the bake sale diva...

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    Quote Originally Posted by sandsjames View Post
    I think it's actually different, too, for those who have medical training but aren't licensed and those who don't have medical training at all. I believe that the average person is protected, while the person with medical training is not.
    Which to me makes no sense. Why protect someone who has NO medical training, when you don't protect those who DO have training?

    Quote Originally Posted by LogDog View Post
    I would hate to think we, as a society, would turn our backs on those who are injured and requiring assistance. I've see a traffic accident in which a pickup truck overturned and I, along with about five other drivers, pulled the guy out of the truck and gave him first aid until the paramedics arrived. It would be a sad day if you're driving along and come upon a wreck and no one is stopping to help the victim(s).
    I hate to see it too, but when i have seen those instances where 20_ people stand around and just do nothing (or video tape) a woman getting beaten, or raped, cause they "Don't want to get involved" i fear we are already heading that way as a society.

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    Senior Member BENDER56's Avatar
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    It's been 20 years since I taught this stuff, but back then the Good Samaritan laws were a patchwork of different standards depending upon the state and, sometimes, the municipality. I suspect that's still the case.

    Most states' Good Samaritan laws shield laypersons from criminal charges and civil lawsuits if they cause harm while making a good-faith effort to help in a medical emergency. But not all of them do. In fact, a couple of states used to have laws that could make laypersons liable for prosecution if they failed to try to help. Hopefully those states also shielded them from any harm they might inadvertently cause.

    Trained medical personnel are typically held to a different standard -- if they respond and cause harm, they could be liable for penalties due to negligence or malpractice. Also, many states have laws that require trained medical personnel to respond, even if they're off-duty, although they might be held to a lower standard-of-care if they're responding as a bystander versus responding as part of a formal response team.

    Other issues, such as the right of patients to consent for medical care and their right to refuse medical care make things even murkier.

    So the only correct answer is to research the laws in your jurisdiction and base your actions (or lack thereof) on that.
    "Every society honors its live conformists and its dead troublemakers."
    ~Mignon McLaughlin

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    Quote Originally Posted by BENDER56 View Post
    It's been 20 years since I taught this stuff, but back then the Good Samaritan laws were a patchwork of different standards depending upon the state and, sometimes, the municipality. I suspect that's still the case.

    ..snip..

    So the only correct answer is to research the laws in your jurisdiction and base your actions (or lack thereof) on that.
    Maybe its cause of all those patchwork laws and inconsistencies, we are seeing all these instances where people just stand around and don't help. Cause they are unsure of what the repercussions would be..

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    Senior Member BENDER56's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by garhkal View Post
    Maybe its cause of all those patchwork laws and inconsistencies, we are seeing all these instances where people just stand around and don't help. Cause they are unsure of what the repercussions would be..
    Don't take this personally, but I don't believe anything just because someone says it.

    Your apparent hypothesis that there are, "...all these instances where people just stand around and don't help," is nothing more than an unsupported assertion. In fact, just this morning in the Tampa Bay Times, I read an account of a guy in Maine who dove into frigid waters to cut a child out of its car seat in a submerged vehicle.

    "Well, that's just one story," you say. You're right -- it means nothing. Just as I'm sure you're belief that, "... people just stand around and don't help," is based on nothing more than similar stories. It's called anecdotal evidence and it means nothing.

    Neither of us knows if the overall trend is for people to help or for people to do nothing. Nor do we know if the trend is changing in one direction or the other. Find a comprehensive survey of many emergencies from many different parts of the country over many years, which documents and quantifies bystanders' actions/inactions, and then we'll know what we're talking about.
    "Every society honors its live conformists and its dead troublemakers."
    ~Mignon McLaughlin

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