Following last weekend's near-drowning incident at a Beijing pool that saw a former brand manager of beijingkids, our sister publication, assist a young girl, it's worth revisiting a subject that pops up from time to time: when is it ok to help?

For would-be rescuers in China, those who would render assistance to a stranger: there is no Good Samaritan Law in China at the moment. In simple terms, a Good Samaritan Law offers legal protection to passersby and lay people who offer assistance in an emergency, within the scope of their training. For example, under such a legal umbrella, if someone with training performs CPR during an emergency, and the victim survives but has his or her ribs cracked in the process (a common occurrence), the rescuer cannot be sued for injuring the victim.

Without that legal protection, many otherwise willing people turn away from rendering assistance in emergency situations. Beijing also has a low rate of CPR and first aid training, including among security personnel at commercial and residential estates, and apparently among lifeguards at public pools.

China even seems to have an anti-Good Samaritan legal ruling on the books, according to Ministry of Tofu:

In 2006, a young man named Peng Yu in Nanjing was sued by an old woman he helped in the street for medical costs, who later claimed Peng Yu was the person who knocked her down. The court ruled that Peng must be at fault, because, as the court said, 'According to what one would normally do in this case,' Peng would have left instead of staying with the woman for her surgical check if he didn’t do it, 'His behavior obviously went against common sense.'

When deciding to act in any emergency situation, the would-be rescue must consider two things: the level of physical risk to him or herself, and the accompanying level of legal risk. No one is obligated to assist in these situations, as much as we may or may not feel compelled. When in doubt, simply call 120 to summon qualified emergency personnel as quickly as possible.

Disclosure: Steven Schwankert, an Emergency First Response Instructor Trainer, is Executive Editor of True Run Media, the Beijinger's parent company. Some of this material was previously published in a Beijinger blog post on October 25, 2013.

Photo: XCar

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