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Good Samaritan Law gets ministry nod in UAE

Asma Ali Zain/Dubai
Filed on December 18, 2018 | Last updated on December 18, 2018 at 07.43 pm
Residents would be trained and allowed to volunteer as medics under the draft law.
Residents would be trained and allowed to volunteer as medics under the draft law.

At present, no such law exists in the UAE due to which the community members hesitate to provide help in emergency situations.


A draft federal law that will allow bystanders or the general public to help those in an emergency situation without being held accountable has been approved by the Ministry of Health and Prevention (Mohap) and has been forwarded to the Cabinet for further action.

"We are hoping this law will finally be in place in 2019," said Dr Saleh Fares, head of Emirates Emergency Medicine Division at the Emirates Medical Association (EMA), while giving an update on the current status of the law.

"Once it is passed, we will have a big campaign to introduce the law," he said.

Drafted loosely on the international 'Good Samaritan Law', the draft law has been tailored for the UAE and states that "no criminal or civil appeal shall be made to any person who has provided in good faith, assistance or relief to another person who is in an emergency situation".

At present, no such law exists in the UAE due to which the community members hesitate to provide help in emergency situations.

"Currently, around 70-90 per cent of the people hesitate in getting involved due to the fear of being caught up in medico-legal procedures," said Dr Saleh. However, with this law's implementation, those helping others with good intentions will be protected. "We want people to get involved and not to be scared to help others who are in an emergency and genuinely need help," he said.

Also under the law, residents will be trained to save lives in emergency situations. Community service centres will come up across neighbourhoods in Dubai, where residents would be trained.

The average time of four minutes taken by paramedics to reach emergency sites does not ensure a life is saved and that's the reason residents are being trained, Dr Omar Sakkaf, director of medical and technical affairs at the Dubai Centre for Ambulance Services, had told Khaleej Times earlier.

The aim is to deploy medics within the community. Residents would be trained and allowed to volunteer as medics under the draft law.

Dr Saleh also said that the first few minutes are important in saving lives. "If help is provided in the initial minutes of an emergency, it can make a big difference in a life or death situation," he explained.

He said that community members who have previously not been able to use first-aid and CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) will also be able to help others in public spaces. Like all laws, the draft law will also hold people liable for not reporting an emergency. "If you can but didn't help, then you are liable. But our intention is not to punish people but encourage community involvement in emergencies," said Dr Saleh.

As per the law, public help will not be needed in crime events or after official assistance services have arrived at the scene, among other case-to-case scenarios to be cleared once the detailed law is passed.

"All government departments are in consensus and we will be meeting the Ministry of Health and Prevention next month to finalise other legalities," he said.

Humane side of the law

>The UAE will be the first Arab country to implement such a law

>It's based on the international Good Samaritan Law

>Once in place, the law will aid volunteers and ambulance authorities

>Those providing assistance with a good intention will be protected under the law

>It will allow the community to practise first-aid and CPR in public places

You are protected by the law, if you:

>Provide help and first-aid in emergency situations with good intentions

>Report emergencies

Provide help ONLY until official assistance arrives

>Are not at a crime scene

What the law could cover

>Good Samaritan laws offer legal protection to people who give reasonable assistance to those who are, or who they believe to be, injured, ill, in peril, or otherwise incapacitated

>The protection is intended to reduce bystanders' hesitation to assist, for fear of being sued or prosecuted for unintentional injury or wrongful death

>Countries where such laws exist include Canada, the UK, the US, Finland, Germany, Australia

>Most such laws do not apply to medical professionals' or career emergency responders' on-the-job conduct, but to some extend, protect professional rescuers when they are acting in a volunteer capacity

KT NANO EDIT

Do good without fear

There are people who are willing to help and care for the needy. But the fear of law, or perhaps doubt that their good might be misconstrued as bad deters many. A Good Samaritan Law will help people to do what is right without getting into the legalities. The authorities should be lauded for making it a reality in the UAE. Such laws reinforce belief in the basic goodness of mankind.

asmaalizain@khaleejtimes.com





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