Without evidence of benefit, an intervention should not be presumed to be beneficial or safe.

- Rogue Medic

California Supreme Court Rewrites Good Samaritan Law

Further explanation of the effect of California Good Samaritans Hunted to Extinction By Lawyers.

What is the purpose of a Good Samaritan law?

To protect by-standers from the legal consequences that apply under common law, if the by-stander is to intervene at the scene of an emergency.

Why do we want to do that?

Professional rescuers are not always available. Generally the first people to offer assistance are not professional rescuers.

But in the decision, the justices kept referring to this as affecting only medical personnel.

That is because they do not have a clue about EMS (Emergency Medical Services). We do provide medical care. To limit what we do to medical care is to be willfully ignorant. Working in EMS includes moving patients from potentially unsafe locations, even if not for the purpose of delivering care. This is what the defendant claims she was doing. Working in EMS usually includes transportation. Working in EMS sometimes even includes medical treatment.

So, pretending that there is a clear delineation between a medical emergency and “other” emergencies, demonstrates profound ignorance of the role of EMS?

Precisely. The majority decided that since this appears in the EMS section of the California Code, this only applies to medical emergencies and medical care.

Maybe I should refuse to do things that are not specifically medical. I could tell my boss, that the California Supreme Court has decided that these things are not a part of my job. I could even take the rescue equipment out of the ambulance. The stretcher, too.

Good luck with that.

So, we should just call 911, now that the law has been changed?

Why would you think that you are protected from any problems that result from your 911 call? The call is clearly not medical treatment.

What do you mean?

Once the justices start micro-parsing the letter of the law, there is no end to the amount of stupidity that they can come up with. For example, you call from a cellular phone, but it may connect to a tower in the next county. That county dispatches EMS to a similar address in their county.

If you had gone inside the residence to call, Enhanced 911 would most likely have connected you to the correct county and provided them with the correct address. If you go into the residence, they may claim that you damaged, or stole, some of their property. You may eventually prove otherwise, but who needs to go tip-toeing through this legal mine field?

Then this is the end of the road for Good Samaritans in California?

Not at all. While I am not fond of politicians, I expect that there will be a bit of a rush to address this in the beginning of the next legislative session. The Legislature is bound to be upset with the Supreme Court for completely undermining the intent of the law.

Getting a bit arrogant about this, aren’t you?

Watch what happens. The law will be rewritten. The new law will end up stating that it is not limited to emergency medical care or to the scene of a medical emergency.

Why do you think that will happen?

Because that was the way they wrote the law. That was their intent. 4/7 Supreme Court justices decided to change that. The Supreme Court was way out of line and the Legislature will want to correct that.

The Legislature may decide to limit the protection in some way, but they will not limit it to just medical care or just at scenes of medical emergencies. There is no reason that we should believe that the intent of this law was to protect medical incompetence, but punish any other incompetence, but that is the way the Supreme Court interprets the law.

Does anyone have any reason to believe differently?

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