This post is directed towards the men and women of our clubs, organizations and communities that remain current in First Aid, CPR and AED (Automated External Defibrillator) certification. I have cited two examples within this text of Pennsylvania’s Good Samaritan laws dating back to 1996. Since the events of 9/11 and recent legal actions, Pennsylvania has broadened its protective umbrella not only legally protect the caregiver, but to promote the act of helping our fellow man in an emergency situation.
Two things are very clear within these laws, you must be currently certified by an accredited organization such as the American Red Cross or American Heart Association and the treatment given must fall within your scope of training. Obtaining permission from the injured individual is very important, if they refuse treatment do not give any, stay with the individual until professional emergency help arrives. If the injured person becomes unconscious or is in a state of semi-consciousness such as suffering from shock, consent is then implied.
Please be advised that anyone who does not assist an injured person and allows said person to suffer permanent physical damage, bleed or choke to death is not considered a Good Samaritan and does not fall under the laws protection. You could be open to legal proceedings by the victim and/or their family.
Pennsylvania Good Samaritan Act
42 Pa.C.S.A. § 8332
Non-medical good Samaritan civil immunity
(a) General rule. --Any person who renders emergency care, first aid or rescue at the scene of an emergency, or moves the person receiving such care, first aid and rescue to a hospital or other place of medical care, shall not be liable to such person for any civil damages as a result of any acts or omissions in rendering the emergency care, first aid or rescue, or moving the person receiving the same to a hospital or other place of medical care, except any acts or omissions intentionally designed to harm or any grossly negligent acts or omissions which result in harm to the person receiving the emergency care, first aid or rescue or being moved to a hospital or other place of medical care.
(1) This section shall not relieve a driver of an ambulance or other emergency or rescue vehicle from liability arising from operation or use of such vehicle.
(2) In order for any person to receive the benefit of the exemption from civil liability provided for in subsection (a), he shall be, at the time of rendering the emergency care, first aid or rescue or moving the person receiving emergency care, first aid or rescue to a hospital or other place of medical care, the holder of a current certificate evidencing the successful completion of a course in first aid, advanced life saving or basic life support sponsored by the American National Red Cross or the American Heart Association or an equivalent course of instruction approved by the Department of Health in consultation with a technical committee of the Pennsylvania Emergency Health Services Council and must be performing techniques and employing procedures consistent with the nature and level of the training for which the certificate has been issued.
1982; 1976, July 9, P.L. 586, No. 142, S 2, effective June 27, 1978. As amended 1978, July 1, P.L. 697, No. 122, S 1, effective in 60 days
In comparison to the expansive Good Samaritan statutes in jurisdictions such as Virginia, Pennsylvania's treatment of the Good Samaritan doctrine is fairly limited. Specifically, unlike any of the statutes discussed above, Pennsylvania does not provide immunity to a non-medically trained individual who renders gratuitous assistance in an emergency situation.
I. Medical Good Samaritan Civil Immunity:
The Pennsylvania statutes provide immunity from civil liability for any physician, practitioner of the healing arts, or registered nurse who renders emergency care at the scene of an emergency. The immunity provision requires that the individual render care in good faith, and that the acts or omissions not be intentionally designed to harm or constitute gross negligence which may result in harm to the person receiving the emergency assistance. Pa. Const. Stat. Ann. § 8331 (1978). For purposes of Section 8331, good faith is defined as "a reasonable opinion that the immediacy of the situation is such that the rendering of care should not be postponed until the patient is hospitalized." Pa. Const. Stat. Ann. § 8331(b) (1978).
II. Non-Medical Good Samaritan Civil Immunity:
Pa. Const. Stat. Ann. § 8332 (1978) provides civil liability immunity to non-medical individuals who render emergency care to an injured person at the scene of an emergency. However, this immunity is specifically limited to those non-medical Samaritans who, at the time of rendering the emergency care, are currently certified as having completed a course in first aid, advanced life saving or basic life support, and who perform the techniques and procedures consistent with their training. In addition, the provision mandates that the non-medical Samaritan's acts or omissions must not be intentionally designed to harm the injured person, or constitute gross negligence, which results in harm to the person receiving the emergency care.
In those instances where untrained individuals take it upon themselves to offer assistance to an injured person in an emergency situation, Pennsylvania law follows the Good Samaritan Rule of the Restatement (Second) of Torts and will allow the injured victim to recover from the Good Samaritan if the injured party can show: 1) that the Good Samaritan was under no obligation or under no duty to provide assistance to the injured party; and, 2) that the injured party either relied upon the Good Samaritan's undertaking to provide assistance or that the Good Samaritan increased the injured party's risk of harm. Miller v. United States, 530 F. Supp. 611, 616-617 (E.D. Pa 1982); Blessing v. United States, 447 F. Supp. 1160, 1187 (E.D. Pa. 1978).