Santa Clara County Good Samariatan Laws for Providing First-aid

If you’re in a situation where someone is injured and requires first aid your first decision is whether or not you’re willing to provide it. If you decide to become the first aid provider your first priority then becomes your own safety.
Some people wonder if they’re required to provide first aid after taking a safety class. In general the answer’s no, first aid training is meant to increase your effectiveness as a first responder and as a first aid provider, but you don’t have the same legal obligations to provide treatment that doctors and other professional medical providers do.
Many people are concerned about the possibility of being sued if they provide first aid to an injured person. Good Samaritan laws generally provide protection to first aid providers as long as those providers don’t exceed their level of training. The application of Good Samaritan laws varies between countries and in the U.S. it varies from state to state. You should find out how the Good Samaritan laws are applied in your area.
After someone takes an American Heart Association first-aid class, they will receive an official certification card that shows the date of the course and when the card expires. Even though a rescuer does not possess a current card, or if their card has expired, they are still protected by the Good Samaritan laws.
Before helping a victim you must have the victims consent to do so. Identify yourself and state your level of training.
“My name’s Robert and I’m trained in basic first aid. Can I help you?”
If the injured person says no and you provide first aid anyway, you’ve opened yourself to a potential lawsuit. If the victim is unresponsive or mentally impaired the legal concept of “implied consent” allows you to provide first aid. Implied consent assumes that most reasonable people will want first aid treatment if they’re in need of it.
A minor can’t legally withhold consent for first aid treatment, but their consent needs to come from a parent or legal guardian. If the parent or legal guardian isn’t present, or if they’re unresponsive or mentally impaired, then the concept of implied consent allows you to provide first aid.
After deciding to help and getting the victims consent to do so your next priority becomes your own safety. Take a minute and assess safety at the scene. If the victim has been injured in a car accident it may be necessary to have someone stop traffic in order to make the accident scene safe for the first responders/first aid providers. If the injury was caused by machinery it’s not unreasonable to assume that the machinery needs to be shut off in order to make the accident scene safe. If a person has cut themselves and is bleeding you need to use a barrier to protect yourself against blood borne pathogens.
The hazards will vary greatly from an industrial setting to an office setting, and from being outdoors to being indoors. What’s important is that the hazards are recognized and then be eliminated or neutralized. Only after you’ve decided to provide first aid, you’ve been given the victims consent to help, and you’ve assured yourself that the scene is safe, can you move on and start providing hands on first aid.

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