Saturday, October 22, 2005

First Aid

As a teacher, I am required to have First Aid certification. We were supposed to have a two-day course during orientation back in August. However, that didn't work out, and the course took place today and last Saturday, from 9am until around 4pm. I will admit, I was dreading this, as my weekends are the only time for me to recover from the week just passed, and refuel for the upcoming week.

It turned out to be a really interesting 2 days, and I learned a great deal - while I hope that I am never faced with a serious trauma situation, I feel fairly confident that I could provide some help (after getting over the initial shock and fear). One of the things I learned that struck me was the fact that in Germany you are not only morally obligated to help, but also legally obligated. So if you see a car accident, if someone passes out in a store, someone falls off their bike, etc., and you stop and look but don't help, you can be criminally prosecuted. If you have taken a first-aid course (which ALL German drivers must do in order to obtain a driver's license) then your obligation is even greater. We were told that if we are assisting someone who has been in an accident, and there are people standing around gawking who refuse to help when asked to do so, and don't leave when asked to do so (because they are not helping) we can write down their license plate number or take their name down and turn them in to the polizei. If people stand around and look and don't help, they are just as criminally liable as if they had caused the accident themselves. Crazy, huh?

I find this moral expectation/obligation interesting (for lack of a better word). It goes in contrast to the Germany of 60 years ago - I don't recall this moral conscience existing then. Is this now a by-product of that time, that experience?


Anonymous N said...

Believe it or not there is such a thing as a Good Samaritan law in some jurisdiction in the US (although I can't remember which one or if it is still in effect). I vaguely remember something about it from my torts class, but that was oh so long ago.....and there are some criminal statutes for failing to act in some situations (although once again, I can't remember the details)

4:44 AM  
Anonymous tom said...

I hope that there is also some corresponding framework in Germany that says that the person legally obligated to help is also not criminally or legally liable for damages caused by their corresponding actions. I bet here in the U.S. a large amount of good samiritans would end up in court, sued for negligence for hurting the person they were legally obligated to help.

9:16 PM  
Blogger franciscovna said...

I did forget to mention that once you basically touch someone in the course of offering aid, you are completely insured by the german government. You are never criminally or legally liable for anything that might happen as a result of offering aid.

11:24 PM  

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