New Law Updates Legal Protections for Citizens Helping in Emergencies
CHICAGO – July 18, 2011. Governor Pat Quinn today signed legislation to help protect good Samaritans who provide cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) to a person having a heart attack or suffering cardiac arrest. Governor Quinn signed House Bill 1549, which amends the Good Samaritan Act in order to provide liability protection to individuals who are trained in CPR in accordance with either American Red Cross or American Heart Association standards.
More than 300,000 people suffer sudden cardiac arrest in the U.S. every year. According to the American Heart Association, less than 8 percent of people who suffer cardiac arrest outside the hospital survive. CPR provided immediately after sudden cardiac arrest by a trained bystander can double or triple a victim’s chance of survival.
“Citizens who have been trained in CPR should not be reluctant to use their training to help another person in an emergency,” said Governor Quinn. “CPR saves lives, and we want those who are able, to step up and help their fellow citizens in a crisis without fear of a lawsuit. This law protects good Samaritans and will protect lives.”
Previously, legal protections covered ‘certified’ rescuers; the updated law amends language so that all ‘trained’ rescuers are protected from lawsuits. Public confusion about who would be protected from civil liability under the Good Samaritan Act decreased the number of people willing to provide CPR to someone in emergency situations.
Updated training methods from the American Red Cross and American Heart Association focus on hands-only CPR, in which chest compressions are delivered to a victim of sudden cardiac arrest. Hands-only CPR has been shown to be as effective as traditional CPR, and is easier to master and perform than mouth-to-mouth ventilation.
House Bill 1549, sponsored by Rep. Jil Tracy (R-Quincy) and Sen. A.J. Wilhelmi (D-Joilet), was an initiative of the American Red Cross and supported by the American Heart Association. The law takes effect immediately.