The Senate Judiciary Committee gave its unanimous approval to Senate Bill 351, legislation introduced by Sen. Baker to protect innocent bystanders from liability when they render aid to someone in distress. The bill also protects from lawsuits businesses who have automated external defibrillators (AEDs) on the premises. More than 300,000 sudden cardiac arrests occur outside the hospital setting each year in the U.S., and only 8 percent of these victims survive if emergency aid is not given. The bill is strongly supported by the American Heart Association, the American Red Cross, the Emergency Health Services Council, the Hospital Association of PA, and the Ambulance Association of PA.
Senator Baker Remarks:
Sen. Greenleaf and fellow members of the Judiciary Committee – the American Heart Association and I are delighted that you have chosen to consider Senate Bill 351, the Good Samaritan bill. This legislation has been a goal of ours for years.
Across the nation, more than 300,000 sudden cardiac arrests happen outside the hospital setting each year. If no life-saving equipment is in the vicinity, and no one steps forward to do CPR, the chances of survival are very slim. However, if CPR is done immediately, those chances of survival are doubled, and possibly tripled.
Yet, Pennsylvania remains one of only handful of states that does not provide legal protections for bystanders.
It’s been a long-time goal of the Heart Association to change this distinction.
Senate Bill 351 fixes the law in two ways: it protects bystanders who, in good faith, rush to the aid of someone in an emergency. And, second, it protects from liability those businesses who place AEDs on their premises. It is tragic that a person who needs help does not receive it because everyone is frozen in place, for fear of a lawsuit.
Passing this law does not mean we are giving protections to the untrained and the careless. Instead, this bill will underscore the importance of training and protect those reasonable, often-heroic people who act in good faith.
When a stroke or heart attack strikes, every second counts. Just as you cannot delay in an emergency, we cannot delay on legislation that has the potential to save tens of thousands of lives.
Contact: Jennifer Wilson