First Aid and the Law

KEY POINTS

  • The law protects Good Samaritans – never be afraid to help.
  • Use common sense: know your limits and be sensible about what you attempt.
  • Keep a record of the incident including the times of events and any treatments given.

EXPLANATION

Sadly, we live in a world where people can be afraid to help for fear of getting litigation. The law protects ‘Good Samaritans’, if you act sensibly and within your limits. In some places, we would be more likely to be sued for doing nothing than trying something to help.

It goes without saying that we should try to act with the consent of our participants and always be realistic and proportionate in what we attempt. However, if you have some first-aid skills, then please don’t be afraid to use them.

Keeping notes during an incident is good practice. They help healthcare professionals and accident investigators down the line, and greatly reinforce our position should we have to defend your actions at a later date. Notes do not have to be formal: a simple description of the incident, the state of the casualty and any actions taken would be more than enough. Try to make the notes contemporaneously: either during, or as soon after, the incident as possible. Include dates and times. If you are coordinating the accident management, you may want to assign someone the job of keeping records during an incident.

If you are hesitating about undertaking a particular course of action, then ask yourself – would I want someone to do this to me in this situation? If the answer is yes, then go ahead.

Please also remember to report any incidents to your sport’s governing body – this will help them improve safety for other practitioners in the future.