There is an interesting case in New York involving an EMT and a pregnant woman with asthma. The asthma patient had been seen earlier in the day by paramedics for her condition and had refused to be transported for evaluation. The EMT, who was working in dispatch for FDNY, was on a coffee break when the woman nearby began having an asthma attack. Bystanders, frantically looking for help, saw the dispatcher in uniform and asked her for help. The dispatcher called 911, but refused to get up and evaluate the patient. The women died.
FDNY Was sued by the dead woman’s family, and the EMT was charged with the crime of negligence. To protect itself from the lawsuit, the FDNY claimed that dispatchers on break do not have a duty to act, and asked that criminal charges against the EMT be dropped.
My personal feeling is that when you are on the clock and in uniform, you do your job, even if you are on a coffee break. This EMT should have tried to do something. Even without equipment, she could have performed CPR.
Off the clock, I agree that you don’t have a duty to act. Heck, I quit stopping at car accidents about ten years ago when a paramedic in Central Florida who stopped at a car accident was struck and killed by oncoming traffic, and the State of Florida refused to pay the widow his death benefits
because he was not on duty.
In this case, this EMT got lucky that her employer needed to avoid legal liability more than they wanted to prosecute her.

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