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The Good Samaritan

Virtually every crash scene that I attended during my policing career featured at least one good samaritan. These were people who stopped to help another in a time of need, often at some risk to themselves. This kind of selflessness is encouraged with protection granted by law in British Columbia.

The Good Samaritan Act protects a lay person who is providing emergency aid to injured people at an accident scene. The protection applies unless the rescuer is grossly negligent in their actions. Gross negligence is any action or an omission in reckless disregard of the consequences to the safety or property of another.

However, before you jump in to help at the next collision, remember that unless you have first aid training and know what to do it is best to do the least necessary to preserve life and prevent worsening of the injury. Paramedics are quick to caution that it is very easy to do significant damage instead applying treatment.

If you have access to a cell phone, a 911 call will provide expert guidance from paramedical personnel if you are willing to remain connected and provide accurate information. Following this guidance will produce the best outcome for the injured. Should communication not be available, be cautious so that you won't make a bad situation worse and need the protection of the Good Samaritan Act.

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