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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 23 January 2019

It's time to build a nation of life-savers

The new 'good samaritan' law reflects the needs of a vibrant and growing society

Nicola Liddell, an emergency first response instructor, encorages people to learn CPR. Victor Besa / The National
Nicola Liddell, an emergency first response instructor, encorages people to learn CPR. Victor Besa / The National

It is a basic instinct to try to help a fellow human being in trouble – to pull a child from a crashed car, to save a drowning swimmer or to give first aid to a stranger who collapses in the street. Now that instinct is to be recognised and encouraged by a change in the law that removes any prospect of prosecution for anyone who acts as a “good samaritan”. Approval of the Rescuer Protection Law is another welcome step forward in the maturing of a legal landscape that is being constantly adjusted to take account of the changing realities of life in a rapidly growing nation.

Daily, the UAE wakes up to more residents, more tourists, more cars, more swimming pools, more of everything. All are welcome byproducts of economic and social progress but with them comes the potential for more to go wrong. Freed from the fear of legal consequences each of us can now play a part in creating a safer UAE.

First aid is simple to learn. Anyone, including children, can be taught to save lives, whether by helping someone choking in a restaurant, bleeding after an accident or not breathing after being pulled from the water. In such emergencies, time is always critical and, no matter how efficient, paramedics cannot hope to be everywhere at once. Every minute without treatment after a cardiac arrest, for example, reduces the patient’s chance of survival by 10 per cent. Cardiopulmonary resuscitation can triple the victim’s chance of survival. CPR can’t reverse an arrest, but it can supply enough oxygen to the brain to save it from permanent damage until medics can restart the heart with a shock from a defibrillator.

As a society, especially one that prides itself on co-operation and neighbourliness, we all have a duty of care towards one another. Thankfully, any legal uncertainty undermining that commitment has now been removed. Schools, workplaces and individuals should now embrace first-aid training and the chance to transform everyday passersby into life-savers.

Updated: January 5, 2019 07:28 PM

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