Scales of Justice

Do I need to ask for permission to give CPR or First Aid?

When you take a CPR or First Aid class, you typically are taught about the rules of consent.  This is a formal term which means “asking for permission.” The basic premise is that people have a right to decide what happens to their bodies (the fancy term for this is “personal autonomy.”) Therefore, it’s considered unethical (and potentially illegal) to provide care to someone without permission.

How do I ask for consent to provide care?

  • If someone is above the age of 18 and is awake, simply ask them if you can help. Tell them who you are, what level of training you have, explain what you plan to do and ask if you can help.
  • If the victim is under the age of 18, ask a parent or guardian for permission on the child’s behalf.

What if someone is unconscious – do I need to ask for consent?

  • No. When a patient above the age of 18 is unresponsive, you can help the patient even without explicit consent. This is called implied consent – meaning, we assume that, had the patient been awake, he would’ve wanted our help.

What if the child has no guardian present – who do I ask for consent?

  • If there is no parent or guardian present, and you are faced with a minor who is suffering a life-threatening emergency, you are permitted to help that minor without obtaining consent – this is called implied consent – meaning, we assume that, had the parents been present, they would’ve granted us permission to help their child.

To learn more about consent and how to help in an emergency enroll in a First Aid CPR AED course.