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Liability

What are the legal consequences for my organisation if one of our First Responders assists a cardiac arrest patient that does not have a positive outcome?

To put it simply, subject to limited exceptions, a person responding to a medical emergency and acting appropriately and in good faith is free from civil liability prosecution.

First Responders are covered by the Western Australian Civil Liability Act 2002. The Act was amended in 2003 to include Part 1D which provides legal coverage for Good Samaritans. A Good Samaritan is defined as “a natural person who, acting without expectation of payment or other consideration, comes to the aid of a person who is apparently in need of emergency assistance”. Emergency assistance is defined as “emergency medical assistance or any other form of assistance to a person whose life or safety is endangered in a situation of emergency”.

A First Responder as a Good Samaritan does not incur civil liability where “an act or omission done or made by the Good Samaritan at the scene of an emergency is in good faith and without recklessness in assisting a person in apparent need of emergency assistance”.

By section 5AD(3), the protection given to Good Samaritans “does not affect the vicarious liability of any person for the acts or omissions or advice of the Good Samaritan or medically qualified good Samaritan”. Vicarious liability only arises in very limited circumstances. One is when an employee, acting in the course of their employment commits a tort (for example is negligent). The employer would then be liable for the employee’s negligence. If the employee is not acting within the course of their employment (for example if it is not part of their job description to provide First Responder services, and they are released from their employment to perform their volunteer First Responder services) then the employer will not be vicariously liable for any negligence of the good Samaritan/employee.

If the employer is providing First Responder as part of its OSH obligations then the employer could be liable if those services were not properly provided.

The exceptions when a First Responder may be liable for his or her negligent acts or omissions are:

  • “personal injury was caused by an unlawful intentional act that is done with an intention to cause personal injury to a person, whether or not a particular person”
  • “The ability of the Good Samaritan or medically qualified Good Samaritan to exercise reasonable care and skill, at the relevant time, was significantly impaired by reason of the Good Samaritan or medically qualified Good Samaritan being intoxicated by alcohol or a drug or other substance capable of intoxicating a person and the intoxication was self-induced”.

Location

Is my location suitable to join the CFRS?

The CFRS is designed for organisations, businesses and communities to implement at their locations.  The CFRS is based on the 'fire extinguisher model', where there are AED's at static locations, for example - shops, offices, recreation centres, airports etc.  This way, no-one has to get in a vehicle and travel to a patient.

Responding to a call

What if I get a call from the St John triple zero call centre and I am unable to respond as the Community First Responder?

If you get a call from our call centre, an ambulance has already been dispatched.  The Community First Responder is not legally obliged to respond.  The First Responder operates in a voluntary capacity only.

What happens if I get a call and I am not at the first responder location?

Advise the call centre that you are unable to attend. The CFRS is an advisory call only. St John Ambulance does not endorse Community First Responders attending to calls in vehicles.

What if my location doesn't have a landline; can we still register on the CFRS? Can I give you my mobile number?

If your location is a static location with no landline, we can still register your defibrillator on the CFRS. We do endeavour to not use mobile numbers as emergency contact numbers as people are not always at the location, they may leave the club/organisation or for such times when they are absent or on holiday. 

In lieu of a landline and mobile number, we can record the exact positioning of the defibrillator at your location. For example a football club that has positioned their defibrillator within the clubhouse the alert may read: 

“If the caller describes chest pain / CPR /  not breathing advise caller the defibrillator is inside the clubhouse on the left hand wall as you enter through the main door”

Defibrillators

Do I have to purchase the AED from St John?

No. While St John sells Laerdal HS1 Heart Start defibrillators, there is no requirement to purchase the Laerdal AED. CFR members are able to provide their own defibrillators if they chose and still sign up to the CFR program.

Why does St John use the Laerdal HS1 Heart Start defibrillator as part of the CFR program?

In our capacity as the Western Australian ambulance service provider, we are able to test and evaluate many different types of defibrillators. After an extensive evaluation process, St John has recently selected the Laerdal MRx as the approved defibrillator for the ambulance service. St John is equally confident in using and installing the Laerdal HS1 automated external defibrillator as part of the CFR program.

What are the ongoing equipment and maintenance requirements for the Laerdal HS1 Heart Start defibrillator?

Ongoing maintenance testing is unnecessary as the AED automatically performs self-tests to ensure readiness for use.

The HS1 pads are one time use only and need to be replaced after use (approx cost - $105)

The non - rechargeable lithium batteries have the capacity for 200 shocks, a 4 year standby or a shelf life of 8 years (approximate cost for a battery is $243).

What AED accessories are available?

Paediatric pads - to be used on a child under 8 years of age or 25 kgs (approximate cost - $169). Brackets or alarmed cabinets to house the defibrillators are also available.

Accessories can be found on the St John website: http://www.stjohnambulance.com.au/first-aid-kits-and-supplies/defibrillators

What if I don’t have paediatric pads; can I use adult pads on a child under 8 years old or 25 kgs?

If a child is in need of defibrillation due to cardiac arrest and no child pads are available, it is acceptable to use adult pads.

In a critical situation where there is no breathing and no pulse, it is giving the child the best chance of survival.

We recommend the anterior / posterior pad placement on the child. The only limiting factor is that the pads should not touch each other.

Do I need specific training to use an AED?

The Laerdal HS1 Heart Start defibrillator is automated, enabling people with very little or no training the potential to save a life. It has an excellent talk through functionality. However, St John does encourage individuals to have completed an Provide First Aid course (HLTAID003). There is no legislated accredited training required to use an AED.

Membership

Our organisation may been seen as a competitor to St John. Can we still join the CFR program?

Yes. An example of this is our relationship with St John competitor Surf Life Saving Australia who has more than 55 registered CFR locations across WA beaches.

How do I register our location on the CFRS?

To register your location on the CFRS there is a one page Client Registration Form that needs to be completed in full and returned to the CFRS team.

To request a Client Registration Form please call 9334 1418 or email: first.responder@stjohnambulance.com.au

Resuscitate Phone App

I have heard about the app RESUSCITATE where locations register their defibrillators. If I register my defibrillator on this app does it automatically mean I am register on the CFRS?

No. The CFRS and the RESUSITATE app are 2 different systems. You can be registered on both, however registering on the app alone does not automatically mean your location is registered on the CFRS and vice versa. Both systems have their own registration process.

Being registered solely on the app does not give your location the direct link in to the St John Ambulance 000 dispatch system.