For Immediate Release
May 21, 2012
Senate Passes Baker Legislation Providing Stronger
Protections to Good Samaritans
HARRISBURG – The Senate unanimously approved legislation this week to protect
bystanders who act to help victims of sudden cardiac arrest, according to
Senator Lisa Baker (R-20), who sponsored the measure.
Senate Bill 351 would expand the state's Good Samaritan law to cover people
who, in good faith, use CPR or first aid to assist victims during an emergency.
It also releases from liability business and property owners who place an AED on
Current law provides uneven legal protections for bystanders and emergency
response providers, according to the American Heart Association, a leading
proponent of the Baker bill. Bystanders are currently protected from liability
if they use an AED, but not if they render CPR or first aid. Emergency response
providers are also protected from liability if they use an AED but not if they
render CPR/first aid.
"Pennsylvania remains one of only a handful of states that does not provide
full legal protections for bystanders who render CPR," Baker said. "The
difference between action and inaction can be the difference between life and
She noted that the bill underscores the importance of training and protects
those reasonable people who act in good faith to help.
Senator Lisa Baker
Floor Remarks - Senate Bill 351
Senate Bill 351 is a legislative priority of the American Heart Association,
and has been for years. Since we are all susceptible, unfortunately, to having
a sudden heart attack, this bill should be a priority for each of us.
Across the nation, more than 300,000 sudden cardiac arrests happen where
medical assistance is not within easy reach. If life-saving equipment is not
nearby, and no one is willing or able to administer CPR, the chances of survival
are slim. However, if CPR is performed immediately, a victim's chance of
survival doubles and possibly triples.
Yet, Pennsylvania remains one of only a handful of states that does not
provide full legal protections for bystanders who render CPR.
Senate Bill 351 fixes the law in two ways: first, it protects Good
Samaritans who, in good faith, rush to the aid of someone in an emergency.
Second, it protects from liability those businesses with automated external
defibrillators—AEDs-- on their premises. Businesses are vulnerable to
litigation both when an AED is used and the outcome is not good, and when they
have an AED on the premises and it is not used.
With the proper equipment at hand and the proper legal protections in place,
a Good Samaritan can jump in and lend a hand without being frozen with fear of
litigation. Heart health experts will tell you--it is always better to do
something than to do nothing when someone is in distress. The difference
between action and inaction can be the difference between life and death.
Passing this bill does not mean that Pennsylvania is empowering bystanders to
act negligently or carelessly. Instead, this bill underscores the importance of
training and protects those reasonable people who act in good faith to help.