Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Ireland Needs Good Samaritan Legislation Urgently

In the US some form of Good Samaritan legislation has been enacted in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Yet Ireland is without such legislation.

In 2005 FG introduced a bill in the Oireachtas to address the issue. The FF/PD Government voted it down on the spurious pretext that it was not properly drafted. That Government failed to introduce its own legislation.

Once more FG has returned to this issue.

Fine Gael Front Bench Spokesman, Billy Timmins TD has demanded that the Government finally
bring forward 'Good Samaritan Legislation' in order to legally protect those who go to the assistance of a person ill or injured as a result of accident from being sued as a result of their intervention.
Deputy Timmins added that Fine Gael brought forward such legislation in the last Dáil but, despite its overwhelming positive benefits and the recommendations from the Taskforce on Sudden Cardiac Death that it be enacted, Fianna Fáil refused to accept the Bill and instead forwarded the concept to the Law Reform Commission.
"The absence of this legislation is prohibiting members of the public from training in First Aid, CPR and the use of defibrillators and this is putting lives at risk.
"Over the last number of years, I have been approached by many groups and organisations who are querying potential difficulties with insurance companies if they purchase such equipment. Putting in place Good Samaritan Legislation would remove such worries. In March 2006, the Task Force on Sudden Cardiac Death recommended the implementation of this legislation but, despite pledging to bring it forward, the Fianna Fáil Government has done nothing to make it a reality. Another Broken Promise from a Fianna Fáil Government that puts lives at risk.
"The Task Force also recommended the roll-out of Community First Responder Schemes throughout Ireland. One such scheme is currently operating in Wicklow at just under 30 locations with almost 500 volunteers trained and its success should act as a blueprint for every county.
"However, despite Government commitments to enhance support for such schemes, there has been little progress made to date in rolling out and implementing them across the country. This is just not good enough, these schemes save lives, roll them out now."

The absolute necessity to enact legislation on this issue is underlined by the following contribution from Paul Gogarty (Green Party) who agreed with the FG proposal.

"In the context of my education portfolio, for example, it has come to my attention that even those qualified in first aid skills within schools are now advised not to come to the aid of children for insurance reasons. The example is often given of little Johnny who cuts his knee while at school. Most teachers in the majority of schools will apply some cotton wool and water and that usually suffices. If the wound is a little deeper, however, but not so much as requires stitches, the average teacher will not apply a plaster because of the risk of being sued by parents and others. This is a dangerous situation.
Whatever happens to this legislation, something must be done to ensure teachers qualified in first aid are able to come to the assistance of pupils without the fear of being sued. Another example is where a child is choking. If a teacher performs the Heimlich manoeuvre on a child and gets him or her to eject the offending object, the child’s teeth may break or he or she may suffer strain or crack a rib. We can bet our bottom dollar that certain unscrupulous parents would take advantage of that and try to sue the teacher for what he or she has done to save their child’s life. A Bill such as this is necessary to ensure that the good samaritans in society, those who try to help out of the kindness of their hearts rather than the other good people, such as doctors, who work for fees, do not suffer any liability."

It is time for the Government to accept FG proposals.

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