This is inspired by the answer to this question: Is there a legal risk in giving emergency first aid?

Lets say that an emergency happens and someone is physically injured and needs immediate medical assistance. There are two people present, one is a normal bystander who is already moving to aid the injured party. The other is a EMT with training and skills that would usually make him far better suited to provide aid, but the EMT is currently legally impaired, lets go with the obvious option and say he is mildly intoxicated.

The untrained bystander intends to help as best as he can, but risks making matter's worse in this particular situation. Good Samaritan laws protect him if he does make things worse so long as he acted an a manner a 'reasonable person' could be expected to have acted in.

The EMT would usually be held to a much higher standard, since a "reasonable EMT" is expected to be more capable of providing aid without making matters worse then a bystander. However, in his impaired state this EMT is not as capable as he usually would and may still risk making matters worse if he tries to render aid while impaired. The EMT intervenes judging that that even in his partially impaired state he is still more capable of rendering aid then a bystander.

I'm wondering how the good Samaritan laws would apply to the EMT he ultimately did more harm then good, acting counter to his 'duty' to the injured party? If the mistake was one that a non-impaired EMT shouldn't make would this EMT face repercussions due to his impaired state?

Would it mater how big the mistake was? For instance if the EMT causes some harm, but it's deemed likely that the bystander would have caused a greater harm acting then the impaired EMT would, would he be protected as a good Samaritan? If it's deemed likely that the sober bystander would have done less harm rendering aid then the impaired EMT is the EMT now at legal risk for misjudging the degree of his impairment?

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    I would know the answer to this under Colorado law, but won't venture an opinion under U.K. law (I presume you really mean England and Wales law as Scotland and Northern Ireland law might be different), as this is an area in which common law countries and even U.S. states differ quite a bit. FWIW, there was a good episode of the TV show ER that dealt with this issue as well.
    – ohwilleke
    Jun 8 '17 at 22:08
  • @ohwilleke In all honesty I cited UK only because it was the location cited in the linked question. When I ask these sort of questions I'm mostly trying to figure how common law is applied in general, regardless of the specific location. I'd love to know what the ruling would be in Colorado if you are confident of that location.
    – dsollen
    Jun 8 '17 at 22:14

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