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NYS EMT Liability When Riding With an FD...


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#1 OFFLINE   PFDRes47cue

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Posted 06 July 2012 - 10:25 AM

Just trying to get some background information on an area that is a little grey to me. I will use myself for the following example but my comments do not reflect my department, they are solely my own thoughts.

If I am an NYS certified EMT-B and I ride with a NYS Fire Department that does not run EMS am I at all liable on scene. If I am at a car accident with the FD and no EMS is on scene am I obligated to act? I am in uniform but not an EMS uniform. Are FD's held liable if they have non EMS trained people hold c-spine until EMS arrives? What about if this non EMS Fire Department has an EMT or Paramedic hold c-spine? Is the FD liable? Is it best to just not have anyone assess the patient and to just wait until EMS arrives? If an FD that does not do EMS has certified EMS personnel should this be made known on scenes if EMS if not present yet? Or should it be hidden?

Personally I feel obligated to provide patient care rather than stand around waiting for EMS or a tow....

Again, the above may be stupid questions... if so my apologies. Just looking for some clarification.

Thanks in advance for any insight,
Madison

Edited by PFDRes47cue, 06 July 2012 - 10:26 AM.

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#2 ONLINE   JM15

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Posted 06 July 2012 - 10:38 AM

Im not a legal expert but I would make a good faith decision and render care to someone who isnt in the care of someone else... When you arrive on the scene of an MVA with the FD what are your first priorities? I assume life safety is number 1.

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#3 OFFLINE   foreman1923

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Posted 06 July 2012 - 11:02 AM

The fire department should have some sort of first aid training. if they don't and something happened where they were negligent I could see that being a huge lawsuit. Most departments now have Emts or at the lowest Cfrs on there rolls that could hold the scene of anything down till an Als or Bls bus arrives. So to answer your question you'd probably be more liable if something happened to the patient while you sat there and waited for an ambulance than you would be if you held stabilization or stopped the bleeding of a trauma patient.

#4 OFFLINE   WAS967

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Posted 06 July 2012 - 11:10 AM

*
POPULAR

If you want a real answer, consult an attorney. Most answers given here will likely be best guesses.
Treat the patient, not your EGO.

This forum needs more cowbell.

#5 OFFLINE   sympathomedic

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Posted 06 July 2012 - 11:15 AM

#1 I am not a lwyer. My dad ius and he gives me EMS law stuff he comes across, and I read lot.
First, act within your scope of practice. Then imagine a scenario of you in front of a jury trying to justify why you did NOT act, while a lawyer points out why you should have, and see who would win. I bet the jury would say an EMT on a scene of an injury should act.

You asked if the FD is liable if "they have an .... hold c-spine" If "they" are not a credentialed agency, 'they" should prabably act within 'their" scope of practice and spread kitty litter and light flares etc. and not do stuff they are not credentailed to do. Just sayin'.
Sadly it should be noted your FD likey has insurance to cover the legal action if a victiim decides it is all your fault for the crick in his neck after he wrapped his car around a tree. An individual care giver does likely does NOT have insurance. I don't. I have been sued twice and have not had to write any checks. There is a legal term, I think called "caveat superior" (My HS latin teacher would croak!) that says that if you are working for someone and do what they tell you, then HE is on the hook for what you do. He may DENY telling you to do it in that situation!
There are many FF PD and EMS folks who have become lawyers or investigate for thise that are. Maybe they will comment on this thread?

I read recently of a Calif. case of a two car group of office workers. The lead car crashed and burned. The 2nd car folks got out and rescued someone from car 1, and paralized them while doing it. The vicitm sued the citizen savior, who invoked the good sam law as defense. The court ruled for the victim, saying good sam was for first aid givers, and that yanking the driver out of the buring car was a rescue, and therfore not covered.

#6 OFFLINE   JetPhoto

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Posted 06 July 2012 - 12:14 PM

I read recently of a Calif. case of a two car group of office workers. The lead car crashed and burned. The 2nd car folks got out and rescued someone from car 1, and paralized them while doing it. The vicitm sued the citizen savior, who invoked the good sam law as defense. The court ruled for the victim, saying good sam was for first aid givers, and that yanking the driver out of the buring car was a rescue, and therfore not covered.



I believe good sam laws are different in every state.

Which is more liable, Holding someone's neck completely still or not doing anything and letting a person suffer and possibly causing further injury to themselves?

In today's world you can be sued for ANYTHING. As long as you do not do something you are not trained for you should be ok.

#7 OFFLINE   ny10570

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Posted 06 July 2012 - 12:25 PM

If you are on scene with the FD you act as a firefighter. Your agency is not an EMS agency and puts themselves at risk if they put you to work as an EMT. In NYC all firefighters whether they are EMTs or Medics on the outside operate as CFRs on an assignment. You should address this with your dept to establish a definitive policy. The district has a lawyer, put him to work.

#1 I am not a lwyer. My dad ius and he gives me EMS law stuff he comes across, and I read lot.
First, act within your scope of practice. Then imagine a scenario of you in front of a jury trying to justify why you did NOT act, while a lawyer points out why you should have, and see who would win. I bet the jury would say an EMT on a scene of an injury should act.

You asked if the FD is liable if "they have an .... hold c-spine" If "they" are not a credentialed agency, 'they" should prabably act within 'their" scope of practice and spread kitty litter and light flares etc. and not do stuff they are not credentailed to do. Just sayin'.
Sadly it should be noted your FD likey has insurance to cover the legal action if a victiim decides it is all your fault for the crick in his neck after he wrapped his car around a tree. An individual care giver does likely does NOT have insurance. I don't. I have been sued twice and have not had to write any checks. There is a legal term, I think called "caveat superior" (My HS latin teacher would croak!) that says that if you are working for someone and do what they tell you, then HE is on the hook for what you do. He may DENY telling you to do it in that situation!
There are many FF PD and EMS folks who have become lawyers or investigate for thise that are. Maybe they will comment on this thread?

I read recently of a Calif. case of a two car group of office workers. The lead car crashed and burned. The 2nd car folks got out and rescued someone from car 1, and paralized them while doing it. The vicitm sued the citizen savior, who invoked the good sam law as defense. The court ruled for the victim, saying good sam was for first aid givers, and that yanking the driver out of the buring car was a rescue, and therfore not covered.


I don't know of caveat superior. I know caveat emptor, Let the buyer beware.

The California case is from 2008 and was specific to California because the decision spoke directly to the language of the law. That being said, a similar decision could conceivably come down in NY or they could find their own reason to hang you out to dry.

#8 OFFLINE   PFDRes47cue

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Posted 06 July 2012 - 06:32 PM

If you are on scene with the FD you act as a firefighter. Your agency is not an EMS agency and puts themselves at risk if they put you to work as an EMT. In NYC all firefighters whether they are EMTs or Medics on the outside operate as CFRs on an assignment. You should address this with your dept to establish a definitive policy. The district has a lawyer, put him to work.


This seems to be the answer that makes sense although not always morally pleasing. A definitive policy has been put into place. We removed the cervical collars from rigs because "firefighters" are not trained through the FD to apply these to victims in need or fellow firefighters even if they are NYS EMT's. I just wanted to hear anything people had to chime in about liability for the individuals who are dressed as "firefighters" but are medical personnel as well under the Morning Pride. But it seems that as long as one is operating with their agency, their is minimal liability that falls on themselves if they act perform in their scope of practice and under direction of superiors.

Edited by PFDRes47cue, 06 July 2012 - 07:08 PM.

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#9 OFFLINE   ny10570

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Posted 06 July 2012 - 09:50 PM

Like I said, ask the district lawyer. I can only extrapolate from other examples. If you are a physician working an ambulance as an EMT and you cric a patient prepare to lose your EMT card.

#10 OFFLINE   Jybehofd

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Posted 07 July 2012 - 04:53 AM

like was967 said check with your fire department. but the least you can do is simple stuff till the ambulance shows up. (ie holding c-spine) and be careful if your the only one qualified or certified on the engine or truck. if someone else does something wrong it can fall on you if it can be proven your the only one that was certified at the time. Otherwise i would assist the ambulance crew as needed. its there patient.

#11 OFFLINE   tonyc856

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Posted 07 July 2012 - 07:28 AM

This one is easy ... 1st of all the Good Sam law in NY only works if you are outside your agency ... such as drivig down the road and see an accident and you choose to act. And the law only limits you as long as you don't work outside your training or do something stupid.

If you are an EMT (even though your FD does not provide an ambulance, please note that I said an ambulance) you still have a Duty to Act under your certification.

Now to take this step to a legal side, if the courts pull your fire departments mission statement, which they will, I am sure in one way or the other it states that your fire department mission is to protect lives. This to shows that as an EMT with your fire department you have a Duty To Act.

#12 OFFLINE   tonyc856

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Posted 07 July 2012 - 07:36 AM

This seems to be the answer that makes sense although not always morally pleasing. A definitive policy has been put into place. We removed the cervical collars from rigs because "firefighters" are not trained through the FD to apply these to victims in need or fellow firefighters even if they are NYS EMT's. I just wanted to hear anything people had to chime in about liability for the individuals who are dressed as "firefighters" but are medical personnel as well under the Morning Pride. But it seems that as long as one is operating with their agency, their is minimal liability that falls on themselves if they act perform in their scope of practice and under direction of superiors.


The term is firefighters "are not trained"; you are a firefighter that IS trained.

Let's think of it this way, if your department has the Jaws of Life on the engine and a firefighter operates that equiptment that is not trained on it and the patient gets injured more because of this, then you FD has a liability.

Now even if they took the collars off the rigs, you still have a Duty to Act, with what you have, and in this cas ehold C-Spine.

#13 OFFLINE   streetdoc

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Posted 07 July 2012 - 07:39 AM

I would agree with was, consult a lawyer your best bet is through the American Ambulance Association. I would also check with your chief in regards to acting as an EMT at a fire scene, ask for a written opinion, and check your SOP’s and department policies. Since your department is not an ems first response agency, your civil exposure is little to none. To establish negligence under the duty to act doctrine a relationship must exist between the caregiver and the patient, since you are acting in the capacity of a firefighter (with no policies or sop’s for patient care) a relationship cannot be established. There are three basic forms of civil negligence
1. Malfeasance: the performance of an unlawful act
2. Misfeasance: improper performance of an act
3. Nonfeasance: failure to act when there is a duty to act (which you do not have under your current department regs)
For negligence to exist or rise to the level where a plaintiff can recover damages four elements must be met.
1. Duty to care
2. Breach of duty
3. Injury
4. Causation
As long as you follow your department’s policies and SOP’s your personal liability is basically non-existent.

#14 OFFLINE   ny10570

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Posted 07 July 2012 - 12:52 PM

This one is easy ... 1st of all the Good Sam law in NY only works if you are outside your agency ... such as drivig down the road and see an accident and you choose to act. And the law only limits you as long as you don't work outside your training or do something stupid.

If you are an EMT (even though your FD does not provide an ambulance, please note that I said an ambulance) you still have a Duty to Act under your certification.

Now to take this step to a legal side, if the courts pull your fire departments mission statement, which they will, I am sure in one way or the other it states that your fire department mission is to protect lives. This to shows that as an EMT with your fire department you have a Duty To Act.


An EMT would not have a duty to act if they are operating as a firefighter in a non ems agency. The duty to act applies when you are with an agency with the authority to respond. His FD has no authority to respond to medical emergencies.

#15 OFFLINE   streetdoc

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Posted 07 July 2012 - 07:14 PM

There is a legal term, I think called "caveat superior" (My HS latin teacher would croak!) that says that if you are working for someone and do what they tell you, then HE is on the hook for what you do.

Sympathomedic, you are correct the name of the Doctrine is RESPONDEAT SUPERIOR (let the master respond) it is a legal doctrine holding "employers" liable for the wrongful acts of their agents (employees). It is also known as VICARIOUS LIABILITY; an employer is answerable for the tort (negligent acts) committed by employees. Two things must exist for this tort to hold up 1. A master-servant relationship must exist between the employer and employee. 2. The wrongful act of the employee MUST have occurred within the SCOPE of his employment. Once again get a hold of your department's policies and or SOP's and stay within the scope. PFD there are no stupid questions, be safe

#16 OFFLINE   PFDRes47cue

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Posted 07 July 2012 - 08:33 PM

There is a legal term, I think called "caveat superior" (My HS latin teacher would croak!) that says that if you are working for someone and do what they tell you, then HE is on the hook for what you do.

Sympathomedic, you are correct the name of the Doctrine is RESPONDEAT SUPERIOR (let the master respond) it is a legal doctrine holding "employers" liable for the wrongful acts of their agents (employees). It is also known as VICARIOUS LIABILITY; an employer is answerable for the tort (negligent acts) committed by employees. Two things must exist for this tort to hold up 1. A master-servant relationship must exist between the employer and employee. 2. The wrongful act of the employee MUST have occurred within the SCOPE of his employment. Once again get a hold of your department's policies and or SOP's and stay within the scope. PFD there are no stupid questions, be safe


Thank you for all the great input, stay safe.

Madison

An EMT would not have a duty to act if they are operating as a firefighter in a non ems agency. The duty to act applies when you are with an agency with the authority to respond. His FD has no authority to respond to medical emergencies.


Thanks, this is ultimately what I was looking to find out. I was unsure if one has duty to act when in a uniform that does not carry the responsibilities of an EMS agency.

Thanks.
Pleasantville FD April 2007 - Present (Lt. 2013-Present) Potsdam FD March 2010 - 2012 Pleasantville VAC December 2007 - Present (LT. 2010-2012)

#17 OFFLINE   tonyc856

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Posted 08 July 2012 - 08:18 AM

Maybe this will help solve all this

http://www.health.ny...s/pdf/98-05.pdf

#18 OFFLINE   tonyc856

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Posted 08 July 2012 - 08:23 AM

While we are at it, this gets into case law

https://www.iaff.org.../Monograph3.pdf

#19 OFFLINE   sympathomedic

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Posted 08 July 2012 - 08:59 AM

Wow, that tiny print at the bottom of page 3 says a lot. In NY, no one has a duty to act, regardless of cert level or license, unless they are part of an agency and response! So all that BS about having EMT stickers on your car puts you at risk if you do not stop at an MVA was just that... BS. Who knew? Well, I guess the guy with the tiny font printer knew, but I sure as hell didn't. Thanks folks. I am a tiny bit smarter now.

#20 OFFLINE   PFDRes47cue

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Posted 08 July 2012 - 11:37 AM

Wow, that tiny print at the bottom of page 3 says a lot. In NY, no one has a duty to act, regardless of cert level or license, unless they are part of an agency and response! So all that BS about having EMT stickers on your car puts you at risk if you do not stop at an MVA was just that... BS. Who knew? Well, I guess the guy with the tiny font printer knew, but I sure as hell didn't. Thanks folks. I am a tiny bit smarter now.


Part of an agency and response that has ems duties....

Edited by PFDRes47cue, 08 July 2012 - 11:38 AM.

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#21 OFFLINE   tonyc856

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Posted 08 July 2012 - 06:56 PM

Part of an agency and response that has ems duties....


It says EMS System ..... thats the catcher

#22 OFFLINE   JetPhoto

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Posted 09 July 2012 - 10:27 AM

This may also help:

NYS DOH Responsibilities of EMS Providers & Coordination of EMS Resources
http://www.health.ny...olicy/98-05.htm

#23 OFFLINE   JetPhoto

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Posted 09 July 2012 - 10:30 AM

Not in NY but related to the topic

Florida lifeguard fired for rescuing drowning man
http://now.msn.com/n...uard-fired.aspx

#24 OFFLINE   ny10570

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Posted 09 July 2012 - 02:29 PM

NYS statutes do not obligate an individual citizen, regardless of training, to respond to a situation or provide care unless there is a formal duty by job description or role expectation. Such a duty to act arises from participation with an agency having jurisdiction.

That says it all right there. Not an EMS response agency, no EMS responsibility in your job description, and no EMS expectation from you role equals you are a firefighter and not an EMT.

#25 OFFLINE   tonyc856

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Posted 10 July 2012 - 10:33 AM

Ok let's look at this how the legal system will look at it .... the memo from the NYS DOH mentions while working in a EMS system. So we need to define EMS System first. And that will be: "a network of services coordinated to provide aid and medical assistance from primary response to definitive care, involving personnel trained in the rescue, stabilization, transportation, and advanced treatment of traumatic or medical emergencies. Linked by a communication system that operates on both a local and a regional level, EMS is a tiered system of care, which is usually initiated by citizen action in the form of a telephone call to an emergency number. Subsequent stages include the emergency medical dispatch, first medical responder, ambulance personnel, medium and heavy rescue equipment, and paramedic units, if necessary." Notice the it says trained in rescue.

Next they will look at Standards. Standards are enforcable in court. Such as AHA CPR Standard. We will look at the grandaddy of standards NFPA. Let's look at NFPA 1001: Standard for Fire Fighter Professional Qualifications. Before we get that some are volunteers, the word professional in this case don't mean paid.
1.1 Scope.

This standard identifies the minimum job performance requirements (JPRs) for career and

volunteer fire fighters whose duties are primarily structural in nature.

1.2 PurposeThe purpose of this standard shall be to ensure that persons meeting the requirements of this

standard who are engaged in fire fighting are qualified. It shall not be the intent of the standard

to restrict any jurisdiction from exceeding these requirements.

4.3*

Emergency Medical Care.
Minimum emergency medical care performance capabilities for entry-level personnel shall be
developed and validated by the AHJ to include infection control, CPR, bleeding control, and
shock management

Next they will look into your fire dept. Go pull out your by-laws or charter and I am sure it will state something very close in protecting life.

Now for an example for you. You get toned out to an auto accident with person ejected. You FD is there before the ambulance, you being a firefighter/emt where are you going to go 1st?

Hope this now helps




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