Two things everyone should probably know, unless your a toddler, is the Heimlich maneuver and CPR. My interest in becoming a volunteer firefighter some years ago taught me both of these things. I'm glad I did.

For the purpose of this post, I am talking about the general public, not someone who is in some way in the first responder field, whether it be professionally or volunteer.

My father almost choked to death back in the early '90s, my mother almost 20 years later. If it wasn't for someone who knew the Heimlich maneuver, I might be parentless today.

Adult Education Students Learn CPR

If someone appears to be in cardiac arrest needs immediate help and/or CPR, the first step is to always call 911. Always.

But, then what do you do? I would imagine most people would be nervous. What if I do it wrong? What if I catch something from this person? Are there legal ramifications if I start CPR on someone?

Here is what I found about the Good Samaritan Law:

An individual who, in good faith and without compensation, provides, attempts to provide or fails to provide CPR, defibrillation, or emergency care will not be held legally responsible. 

They can be held legally responsible if acting with extreme carelessness. Generally, Good Samaritan laws only offer protection for those individuals who provide care during spontaneous emergencies unrelated to volunteer deployment.

It's always a good idea to scan where ever you are for a defibrillator as well. These life saving machines are increasingly located in public places. Always always always call 911 first, however.

Regarding the lawsuit question, the following information is courtesy of

It is important for lay rescuers to know that they do not have to fear a lawsuit if they give CPR. No lay rescuer has ever been successfully sued for performing CPR because lay rescuers are “Good Samaritans” and are protected by “Good Samaritan” laws. All 50 states have Good Samaritan laws or regulations.

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