Backpacking First-Aid Philosophies

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Home Forums Campfire Editor’s Roundtable Backpacking First-Aid Philosophies

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    David Gardner
    BPL Member


    Locale: Northern California


    1. If the person who may benefit from medication is conscious, show them a field first aid booklet or medication guide (which you should have for any medicine you carry anyway unless you carry it in a bottle or packet that identifies it, in case someone else needs to assess what meds you may have taken if you’re injured and not conscious to tell them) and the medicine, and let them decide if they want to take it.

    2. Most states have “Good Samaritan” laws of one kind or another (some only cover medical emergencies, some cover non-medical rescue situations also) that protect a person who provides assistance in an emergency situation. The purpose is to encourage people to help others who are in trouble, and to volunteer their assistance without compensation.

    In most states there is no duty to rescue or assist another person who is in danger or in an emergency situation. This means that you cannot be held liable for not helping out; neither a lawsuit nor criminal charges can be filed. But since it is generally a good thing when people help out in an emergency the laws are intended to protect those who do provide aid. EMTs and other emergency responders cannot always get to the scene of an accident immediately, and help from others can save lives and prevent further injuries. Public policy therefore favors encouraging people to help those who are in need during emergencies and are at a risk of harm.

    California’s Good Samaritan statute (I am only licensed in California) provides protection against lawsuits for those who aid others in an emergency situation. The law provides that if a person renders emergency medical or non-medical care, at the scene of an emergency, that person will not be civilly liable for harm resulting from an act or omission if:

    1. The help was offered without expecting any payment or reward;
    2. The assistance was made in good faith; and
    3. There was no gross negligence or willful or wanton misconduct.

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