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Should Rescuers Be Held Liable for Poor CPR Performance?

Detroit EMTs Fired After Feedback Data Showed Inadequate CPR

In late March, the Detroit Free Press reported that two of the city’s EMTs had been fired after an AED feedback tool indicated they had failed to deliver high-quality CPR. The victim — a 6-foot-3, 280-pound man with a history of pulmonary embolisms — was pronounced dead soon after arriving at the emergency room.  

Here at Cardio Partners, we’re pretty passionate about AEDs and CPR. In fact, we consider it our duty to inform our readers about topics ranging from sudden cardiac arrest to AED legislation to the importance of CPR

The tragic event in Detroit brings up a host of issues and plenty of questions for the industry. Richard Lazar, President of Readiness Systems (which publishes AED Law Center) noted the following in an editorial published on LinkedIn

“If better CPR is the goal of CPR feedback tools, then great, no problem. But in this case, it appears from news accounts that CPR performance data was used as one of the reasons to fire the two EMTs. If the failure to deliver high-quality CPR (however defined) is legally actionable (either administratively as in this case or civilly in a negligence lawsuit), then volunteer bystanders and professional healthcare workers will be placed in legal jeopardy if they use CPR feedback devices that collect and store performance data. This is quite scary and raises a host of questions.

“For ‘bad’ CPR to give rise to a lawsuit or administrative proceeding, ‘bad’ must be adequately defined and enforceable as a legally binding “standard of care.” However, CPR competence is not governed by any existing or binding standards. As far as I am aware, no statute has been passed and no agency regulation adopted in any state requiring strict adherence to CPR performance metrics. Now that the genie is out of the bottle, however, plaintiff’s lawyers may try to use CPR feedback data to prove volunteer bystanders or healthcare professionals are negligent in CPR/AED cases – a messy and nebulous process that leaves standard of care decisions to judges and juries.

“Claiming CPR feedback devices or CPR competence training represents a standard of care is consequential since this very loaded term has more legal than medical meaning. And who, for example, determines what the enforceable standard for CPR quality is? The benchmark – however defined – will undoubtedly change over time as it has consistently since the 1700s. So what standard will apply when? CPR feedback technology will also have to prove itself good enough – and defensible enough – to stand up to the rigors of litigation and advocacy. Finally, makers of CPR feedback technology and CPR competence trainers may find themselves in the litigation/liability target zone alongside those doing the CPR. The potential ramifications hinted at by this case and the notion of CPR quality as a standard of care seem endless.”

We also think it’s worth pointing to a study published by Baylor University Medical Center in 2017. Researchers found that performing successful compressions on obese or morbidly obese manikins (and, based on the aforementioned victim’s BMI of 35, he would have been considered obese) was significantly more difficult than doing so on a manikin with a healthy BMI. In fact, 23 out of 30 compressions on the normal manikin were successful while 0 out of 30 were successful on the obese and morbidly obese manikins.

“High-quality, effective compressions are vital to successful CPR. Results of this study indicate that compression quality is lower when performed on obese and morbidly obese adult simulation manikins…Edelson and associates found that morbid obesity was associated with poor outcomes in comparison to subjects who were not morbidly obese. They also found that morbidly obese patients received shallower chest compressions.”

AEDs and CPR Save Lives

In 2015, the CDC reported that 375,000 people in the US experienced an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest. The American Heart Association estimates that at least 20,000 lives could be saved annually by prompt use of AEDs. The AHA also notes that “communities with AED programs, which include comprehensive CPR and AED training, have achieved survival rates of 40% or higher for cardiac arrest victims.” 

AEDs with automatic feedback are designed to assist rescuers — both professional and untrained bystanders — improve survival outcomes. 

Clearly, more research is needed; however, the Baylor researchers concluded that “CPR training for individuals working in a hospital should be representative of potential situations that they may encounter, and it is likely that health care workers will encounter obese or morbidly obese patients. Implications for healthcare workers include maintaining competency of basic life support skills and being prepared to deliver CPR on obese patients.”

Are EMTs Protected by Good Samaritan Laws?

Given our litigious society, bystanders may feel some reluctance to help out in emergency situations. In fact, some potential rescuers may even choose not to offer assistance to those in need for fear of liability. While proceeding with caution and care is always advised, fortunately, all 50 states and the District of Columbia now include AED usage as part of their Good Samaritan Laws. 

These laws vary by state but they have been enacted to protect organizations and laypersons — and in some cases, first responders — from civil litigation.

Basically, these statutes protect those who help others in a time of crisis or emergency. Often these laws only apply if the rescuer is acting without any expectation of compensation or reward. In other words, if you’re a medical professional getting paid to rescue, then these laws may not apply to you. 

In general, states also extend Good Samaritan protections not only to good faith rescuers but also to AED trainers; to the person responsible for the site where the AED is located (when that person has provided for an AED training program); and to any physician who prescribes an AED. 

Protect Yourself From Civil Liability

First and foremost, always act in good faith. Regardless of the laws in your state, it’s wise to protect yourself from possible liability by acting on behalf of the victim. Here are a few tips to protect yourself from liability:

  • Take a nationally-recognized First Aid course
  • Become AED certified
  • Learn CPR
  • Make sure your certifications are up-to-date
  • Use common sense
  • If possible, ask the victim if you can assist them
  • Don’t try to be a hero, but do try to help
  • Don’t do anything you’re not trained to do
  • Seek professional help as soon as possible
  • Never accept cash, gifts, or other awards for your assistance

While Good Samaritan Laws provide some level of protection if a lawsuit is filed, they do not prohibit or prevent a lawsuit from being filed. In fact, some states, such as Rhode Island, only offer Good Samaritan immunity to individuals who hold up-to-date AED certifications. Virginia, by way of contrast, offers extensive protection and goes so far as to urge the public to receive CPR and AED training.

Ready to hone your CPR and AED skills? We have the info you need about CPR or AEDs and CPR and AED Training. To purchase an AED, visit or call Cardio Partners at 866-349-4362. You can also email us at

DISCLAIMER: The information included in this post and on our website is not intended as legal advice. As legislation changes often, this post may inadvertently contain inaccurate or incomplete information. We urge you to contact your state representative should you require more information about current AED, CPR, and Good Samaritan laws in your state.

DISCLAIMER: Information and resources found on the and websites/blogs is intended to educate, inform, and motivate readers to make their health and wellness decisions after consulting with their healthcare provider. The authors are not healthcare providers. NO information on this site should be used to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure any disease or condition.

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Celebrate CPR Awareness Week with Cardio Partners!

June 1-7 is CPR Awareness Week. Let’s Save Some Lives!

You’ve probably gathered that here at Cardio Partners and, we’re pretty passionate about CPR and AEDs. After all, it’s who we are and what we do. As one of the primary licensed training providers for both the American Red Cross and the American Heart Association, we’re dedicated to offering the highest quality classes and services.

“I really like being able to share my knowledge,” says Cardio Partners Lead Training Specialist, Omar Walker. “With my EMS background, I’ve done CPR hundreds of times and have seen the benefits of it. It’s so important to have people who are prepared to save a life. As an instructor, it’s gratifying to have people say that they’ve had CPR training for 20 years and that my course is the best training they’ve ever received.”

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: sudden cardiac arrest is one of the leading causes of death in this country and most cardiac arrests occur at home (American Heart Association).

If you don’t have your first aid, CPR, and AED certifications, make a commitment to register yourself and your loved ones for a course this week!

Find an American Red Cross Class Near You!

Find an American Heart Association Class Near You!

If you’re a business owner, director of a nonprofit, school principal, daycare provider, or community organizer, contact us to find the right course for your organization.

In honor of this year’s CPR Awareness Week, we thought we’d recap a few of our most popular AED and CPR posts.

3 Must-Read Articles About AEDs

Shocking Statistics About AED and SCA

Back in October, we dug deep and found some incredible statistics about sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) and AEDs. Be sure to read the full article, but here are the key takeaways:

  • SCA kills more Americans than lung cancer, breast cancer, and HIV/AIDS combined (AHA).
  • Among middle-aged adults treated for SCA, 50% had no symptoms before the onset of arrest (NCBI).
  • 475,000 Americans die from a cardiac arrest every year and 17.5 million people across the globe die from cardiovascular disease each year (AHA).
  • 10,000 SCAs occur in the workplace each year (OSHA).
  • 68.5% of out-of-hospital cardiac arrests occur at home (SCAF).
  • 45% of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest victims survive when bystander CPR is administered (AHA).

Finding Funding for Your AED Program

We think every organization, every school, and every community needs quick and easy access to public AEDs. Not only do we offer affordably-priced new AEDs and recertified AEDs, but we also published A Complete Guide to AED Grant Writing. In this free downloadable eBook, we offer insight into the different kinds of grant funding, an insider’s guide to the grant writing process, tips for writing a successful grant, and suggestions for making the strongest case possible for your AED. We even point you in the right direction for potential funding sources.

The Importance of AEDs: A Survivor’s Story

We have a huge soft spot for winners and we were delighted to catch up with SCA survivor Rob Seymour three years after he suffered a cardiac arrest after crossing the finish line at the 2015 Broad Street Run in Philadelphia.

3 Must-Read Articles About CPR

What Will I Learn From a CPR and First Aid Class?

If you’re wondering what to expect and what you’ll learn from a CPR and First Aid Certification course, sign up for one! Need a preview? Here we go:

  • Knowledge: Topics include how to identify sudden cardiac arrest, perform CPR, employ standard precautions, assess an unresponsive person, use an AED, and how to recognize and provide treatment for a choking adult, child, or infant.  
  • Skills: You’ll learn to perform one-person CPR, CPR with rescue breaths, hands-only CPR, how to administer CPR as part of a two-rescuer team, how to administer a shock from an AED, and so much more.
  • Experience: As part of your hands-on CPR training, you’ll have the opportunity to practice CPR with rescue breathing, AED use, and working as part of a two-rescuer team.
  • Confidence: Although you’ll gain the knowledge, skills, and experience you need to help someone in need, you’ll also learn about your boundaries and the limits of your abilities. Knowing what you can and cannot do is a huge part of building confidence.

CPR Songs: Greatest Hits to Save Lives

This one was a ton of fun. Fire up Spotify and commit some of the Cardio Partners CPR Playlist, Greatest Hits to Save Lives, to memory.

June 1-7 2019 is CPR Awareness Week! Celebrate with us at Cardio Partners by getting educated and trained on saving a life.

CPR for Pets

Let’s not forget about our fur family! Our article, CPR for Pets, is a long-standing reader favorite. Here are the generally accepted recommendations for performing CPR on your cat or dog:

  • Perform 100 to 120 chest compressions per minute.
  • Compressions should be performed with the animal lying on its side and should be as deep as one-third to one-half of the chest width.
  • Ventilate intubated dogs and cats at a rate of 10 breaths per minute. For mouth-to-snout ventilation, maintain a compression-to-artificial respiration ratio of 30-2.
  • Perform CPR in 2-minute cycles. If possible, switch the person performing the compressions with each cycle.
  • In a medical setting, administer vasopressors every 3 to 5 minutes during CPR.

A free special issue of the Journal of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care covers the development of the guidelines as well a detailed evidence analysis.

How CPR Works: A History

Sometimes we just have to dive down an internet rabbit hole. When we discovered that mouth-to-mouth resuscitation was three centuries old, we knew we had to trace The History of CPR and How it Works from the 1700s to the 21st Century.

Ready to celebrate CPR Awareness Week? We have the info you need about CPR or AEDs and CPR and AED Training. Or to purchase an AED, visit or call Cardio Partners at 866-349-4362. You can also email us at

DISCLAIMER: Information found on the and websites/blogs is intended to educate, inform, and motivate readers to make their health and wellness decisions after consulting with their healthcare provider. The authors are not healthcare providers. NO information on this site should be used to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure any disease or condition.

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May 23 is National Stop the Bleed Day

4 Ways You Can Commemorate National Stop the Bleed®️ Day

May is Stop the Bleed®️ Month and May 23 is the second annual Stop the Bleed®️ Day. This nationwide campaign highlights the importance of Stop the Bleed®️ training and provides the public with information and education through local fire, EMS, and health care professionals.

Up to 20% of trauma-related deaths in the United States could have been prevented. In fact, uncontrolled bleeding is the number one cause of preventable death from trauma. That’s approximately 30,000 lives that could be saved with proper training, equipment, and product availability (!

Wondering how you can celebrate? We have a few ideas for you.

#1: Download our Latest eBook: What You Need to Stop the Bleed®️

In recognition of National Stop the Bleed®️ Day, the Cardio Partners family of companies recently published a comprehensive guide to help our corporate customers, educational partners, and community members better understand traumatic bleeding and the importance of bleeding control kits such as the Curaplex Stop the Bleed® kits and Cardio Partners Bleeding Control Kits.

What You Need to Stop the Bleed®️:

Download Your Free Bleeding Control Guide

#2: Learn How to Stop the Bleed®️: Find a Course Near You

As of this month, the American College of Surgeons (ACS) estimates that it has helped train more than 600,000 people in bleeding control training. Training sites may include fire stations, offices, community centers, hospitals, and schools. Classes are appropriate for teens and up.

During Stop the Bleed®️ training, you will learn how to:

  • Determine if an area is safe for you to proceed toward a victim to provide assistance
  • Identify any nearby tools to assist you, such as publicly placed bleeding control kits or common items that can be used to control bleeding.
  • Use your hands to apply direct pressure at the site of the wound to stop bleeding
  • Pack a deep wound with cloth or gauze to control bleeding
  • Correctly apply a tourniquet to an injured limb to stop bleeding
  • Keep the victim calm until help arrives


Find a bleeding control class near you!

#3: Can’t Find a Course? Be Proactive and Create One!

Don’t see a bleeding control course near you? Contact your local Fire Department, Community Health Center, Emergency Medical Services agency, or the community outreach department at a local hospital.

Stop the Bleed®️ trainings are focused, hands-on, and interactive. Last year we were fortunate enough to host the Brentwood Fire Department at our Nashville headquarters. The firefighters demonstrated how to correctly apply a tourniquet and they also covered basic triage techniques, how to correctly apply HALO seals to sucking chest wounds, and how to stanch bleeding from junctional wounds (such as those located in the neck, armpit, or groin).

#4: Take Action By Supporting Federal Legislation

“Injuries and violence affect everyone, regardless of age, race, or economic status. In the first half of life, more Americans die from violence and injuries — such as motor vehicle crashes, falls, or homicides — than from any other cause, including cancer, HIV, or the flu. This makes injury the leading cause of death among persons 1-44” (Centers for Disease Control).

Nearly 45 million Americans do not have immediate access (within one hour) to a Level I or II trauma center (American College of Surgeons). The ACS supports legislation that would assist civilian bystanders in taking life-saving actions in emergency situations.

On May 7, 2019, Congressman Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL) and Congressman Brad Wenstrup D.P.M. (R-OH) introduced H.R. 2550, Prevent Bleeding Loss with Emergency Devices (BLEEDing) Act of 2019.

“The legislation would provide grant funding to states for bleeding control kits and training. The ACS believes, just like CPR training, a civilian familiar with basic bleeding control techniques is better equipped to save a life. The effort to make this training and bleeding control kits available to the public through a Department of Homeland Security grant program will help to drive the goal of reducing or eliminating preventable death from bleeding.”

Contact your representative in Congress and ask them to support the BLEEDing Act of 2019

Stop the Bleed: Take Action Now!

To learn more about our bleeding control kits, courses, or to schedule a training, call our team at 866-349-4362 or email Cardio Partners at

DISCLAIMER: Information and resources found on the and websites/blogs is intended to educate, inform, and motivate readers to make their health and wellness decisions after consulting with their healthcare provider. The authors are not healthcare providers. NO information on this site should be used to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure any disease or condition.

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