Environmental, Health and Safety Services

Protect Yourself

Legal Protection

In general, you should not hesitate to help a victim because you are afraid of being sued. In Virginia, there are Good Samaritan laws designed to protect volunteers who attempt to help another person. In addition, the following guidelines will provide even more protection for you:

  • Act only as you are trained to act.
  • Get the victim's consent before giving first aid.
  • Do not move the victim unnecessarily.
  • Call for professional help (911).
  • Keep giving care until someone of equal or higher training takes over.

Infectious Disease

There is some risk of getting an infectious disease when providing first aid - especially where contact is made with an infected person's blood. Bacteria or viruses contracted through a person's blood are called bloodborne pathogens. Bloodborne pathogens may also be present in other bodily fluids, such as bloody saliva, vomit, semen, or vaginal secretions. Diseases associated with providing first aid include human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), hepatitis B (HBV), and hepititus C (HCV). During training, you will learn about universal precautions that should be taken, and appropriate personal protective equipment that should be worn, in order to minimize exposure.

Although rare, there are a few airborne diseases to be aware of, such as tuberculosis (TB) or severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). Special precautions are generally not required for first aid responders.