The following comes from a September 4 posting on Catholic Online.
A bill that would stop employers from having policies that forbid employees from taking lifesaving measures is on the desk of California Governor, Jerry Brown. The bill is a response to the death of Lorraine Bayless, 87, who died in a Bakersfield retirement home after staff at the home said they could not perform CPR.
Bayless collapsed on Feb. 26, and staff at the Glenwood Gardens nursing home called 911. During the call, the dispatcher recommended staff perform CPR. The staffer on the phone refused saying her company policy forbade the lifesaving procedure.
After she refused, the quick thinking dispatcher, later identified as Tracey Halvorson, implored the nurse to find someone else to attempt the procedure.
“I understand if your facility is not willing to do that. Give the phone to a passer-by. This woman is not breathing enough. She is going to die if we don’t get this started. Do you understand?”
When paramedics arrived, Bayless had already stopped breathing and paramedics were unable to revive her.
The subsequent controversy created a brief media firestorm as the debate raged over whether a company should be allowed to permit employees from providing lifesaving procedures during emergencies. Already, Good Samaritan laws protect ordinary citizens from legal punishment if they attempt to save a life. At the same time, some businesses forbid such behavior and employees could be fired, such policies are often the result of an extreme fear of liability.
To protect these employees, Sen. Norma Torres (D-Pomona) sponsored AB633 which would bar employers from adopting such policies. It would protect employees who perform lifesaving procedures during emergencies.
The bill passed unanimously in the state Senate and is up to Gov. Brown to approve.
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