The first rule you need to be aware of prior to rendering emergency medical aid may sound strange and not exactly apparent, but you need to comprehend and accept it:

Legally you don’t have to render first aid to anybody

Assuming somebody is feeling unwell, or somebody is in trouble, the only thing you are required to do is to notify those for whom first aid provision is a duty and professional occupation. If you deliberately walk on by, not paying any attention to an injured person, and don’t notify the relevant authorities about an accident, it can be classified as a crime, it comes under a particular legal clause called “failure to give assistance to persons in mortal danger”, and it is a reason for setting up the second rule as follows:

You have to call for help

Let us say a few words about those we turn for aid to. It is important to know that our possibilities are not limited to only a telephone call. Any policeman, fireman, rescuer or medical attendant is legally obliged to render emergency aid. If you come across any of the above listed people, please inform them that their assistance is required.

If, however, you wish to do more than simply call for help and patiently wait for ambulance, feeling that your duty has been fulfilled, and if you want to help personally, then it is great! But in this case you should be aware that emergency aid begins with the particular information you need to be familiar with. If you don’t know how to help, it is highly unlikely that you will be able to help at all. Moreover, the chances are you will make it worse.

This is where the third rule comes from:

If you don’t know how to help – don’t try to help. Please, wait for those who have appropriate knowledge.

It is extremely important to render emergency aid in such way that you don’t add any work to rescuers by risking your own life while you are trying to save somebody else’s.


  • Approach smoke-filled premises without a gas mask;
  • Try to rescue a drowning person if you can’t swim;
  • Grasp live wires;
  • Preach at an aggressive drug addict;
  • Try to catch a dog which bit someone;
  • Etc.

The obvious forth rule:

Anyone rendering emergency medical aid first of all has to ensure their own safety

The fact that you are willing and able to provide help doesn’t necessarily mean that you are entitled to proceed with it. Legally a victim has the right to refuse to be provided with the first aid or to refuse getting it from you in particular.

Fifth rule:

You should know when the first aid provision needs to be authorized and who is entitled to issue such permission.

When and who do you need to refer for permission to:

  • If a victim is conscious you should refer to them directly: offer your help: (“Would you like me to help you?”) and get their consent;
  • If a child got hurt, you need to ask for his close relatives’ consent for the first aid provision (Russian and Ukrainian laws stipulate that “an individual who is 14 or more years old shall be provided medical help only upon their consent”). Therefore, when we say “a child” we mean a person younger than 14 old.

You don’t need permission if:

  • A victim is unconscious;
  • A child got hurt and there are no child’s close relatives around;
  • It is a case of attempted suicide.

Main conclusion drawn from the rule five:

  • You are always entitled to render emergency medical aid to your own child.

(Перевод на английский язык статьи Е.О. Комаровского «5 правил, которые вы должны знать перед тем, как оказывать неотложную помощь» любезно сделан Юлией Хейлетт, Центр иностранных языков "Экспресс".)

автор Комаровский Е.О.
опубликовано 09/07/2015 14:41
обновлено 15/07/2015
Медицина и общество, Неотложная помощь


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