The Social Action, Responsibility and Heroism Bill; which was announced in the Queen’s Speech 2014 is positive news for people wanting to take action to help others in an emergency.
The government has introduced the Bill following evidence suggesting that people are deterred from volunteering, helping others or intervening in an emergency; due to a fear of risk or concerns of liability. The DEFIBhub team are very familiar with this sentiment; it is a concern we often hear when discussing the placement or use of an AED.
In relation to the use of AEDs, the fear of causing harm is unwarranted; an AED will only deliver a shock to a person who needs it and a person suffering a cardiac arrest will not survive without prompt CPR and defibrillation.
The Social Action, Responsibility and Heroism Bill helps to address the concerns people have in regards to liability, as in the case of legal action it would require the court to take full account of the context of a person’s actions.
The Bill would require the court to take into account the following:
The court must have regard to whether the alleged negligence or breach of statutory duty occurred when the person was acting for the benefit of society or any of its members.
The court must have regard to whether the person, in carrying out the activity in the course of which the alleged negligence or breach of statutory duty occurred, demonstrated a generally responsible approach towards protecting the safety or other interests of others.
The court must have regard to whether the alleged negligence or breach of statutory duty occurred when the person was acting heroically by intervening in an emergency to assist an individual in danger and without regard to the person’s own safety or other interests.Social Action, Responsibility and Heroism Bill, 2014
The Bill is expected to receive Royal Assent by the end of parliamentary session in early 2015, subject to parliamentary progress. For guidance in relation to the law as it stands, the Resuscitation Council produced a detailed document regarding the legal status of those who attempt resuscitation in 2010.