And a series of laws on the books would prevent most prosecutions in any similar cases here in New York State.
READ A TRANSCRIPT of THE 911 CALL
Here is a partial transcript of the 911 call from a senior living facility nurse - identified as Colleen - requesting help for an 87-year-old woman who was barely breathing.
Caller: I understand. I am a nurse. But I cannot have our other citizens, who don't know CPR, do it. We're in a dining room.
Dispatcher: I will instruct them. Is there anyone there?
Caller: I cannot do that.
Dispatcher: OK, is there anyone there who is willing to help this patient?
Caller: I am, but...
Dispatcher: OK great, then I'll walk you through it all. EMS takes the liability for this, Colleen. I'm happy to ... OK? This is EMS protocol. OK?
Caller: (To someone off the phone) I don't know where he is. She's yelling at me to have one of our other residents perform CPR. And I'm not gonna do that, and make that call.
Dispatcher: Colleen, is there anyone that works there that's willing to do it?
Caller: We can't do that.
Dispatcher: Are we just gonna let this lady die?
Caller: Well that's why we're calling 911.
Dispatcher: We can't wait. She can't wait right now. She is stopping breathing. She can't wait for them to get there.
Caller: She's taken three breaths.
Dispatcher: It's not enough. We need to get CPR started.
Caller: (Chatter in background) He's saying we don't. You can talk to my boss, and I don't know what to say.
Dispatcher: OK. (To someone off phone.) They're refusing CPR, they're gonna let her die. By the facility, yeah.
Caller: When will the fire department be here? When will the ambulance ...
Dispatcher: They're coming. They've been on the way all this time but we can't wait. This lady's gonna die.
Dispatcher: OK, well then if you get anybody, any stranger that happens to walk by that's willing to help. I understand if your boss is telling you can't do it. But if there's any human being. ... Is there anyone that's willing to help this lady and not let her die?
Caller: Um, not at this time.
Dispatcher: (To someone off phone) They won't. They won't touch her at all. I can't get anyone to touch her at all.
Caller: We have residents that are ...
Dispatcher: Any guests? Any guests that are there that are willing to help?
Caller: No, I don't have any.
Dispatcher: Is there a gardener, any staff? Anybody who doesn't work for you anywhere? Can we flag someone down in the street and get them to help this lady. ... Can we flag a stranger down? I bet a stranger will help her. I'm pretty good at talking them into it. If you can flag a stranger down I will help. I will tell them how to help her.
Caller: (To someone off phone) She said not to move her. OK.
Dispatcher: Has anyone gone to look for a stranger?
Caller: They're here right now.
The public release of the 7-minute recording caused national outrage, fueled further when the facility's owner claimed the nurse acted appropriately.
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Tim Miller, CPR Trainer
Attorney Paul Cambria, Legal Analyst
Similar Reluctance and Risks Not Likely in NYS: Several Laws Suggest you Can Jump In
New York State Health Law, Article 30:
"...Any person who voluntarily and without expectation of monetary compensation renders first aid or emergency treatment at the scene of an accident or other emergency outside a hospital, doctor's office or any other place having proper and necessary medical equipment, to a person who is unconscious, ill, or injured, shall not be liable for damages for injuries alleged to have been sustained by such person or for damages for the death of such person alleged to have occurred by reason of an act or omission in the rendering of such emergency treatment unless it is established that such injuries were or such death was caused by gross negligence on the part of such person. "
In July of 2011 Governor Cuomo made New York State the latest to pass a "Good Samaritan Law" related specifically to drug overdoses, granting immunity from prosecution to those who witness one, rather than have them withold first aid or not call emergency services
And a bill is pending in the state Senate Health Committee that would give additional protection to ambulance crews that give aid outside their jurisdiction or district.
"We encourage everyone to jump in and try and save a life.... those who do react under those circumstances are covered under the New York State Good Samaritan law"
-- Shoshone Dentice, American Red Cross Buffalo Chapter
Don't Know CPR? There's an App for That
The American Heart Association has an app available for smartphone’s – the Pocket First & CPR. It’s intended for use by the general public, in the event of an emergency. It is not meant to be a substitute for full CPR and first aid training, nor should it be used by a healthcare provider in a health care setting.
Check it out at www.heart.org/cprmobile
The American Heart Association recommends that if anyone sees a teen or adult suddenly collapse and stop breathing normally, that they immediately call 9-1-1 and begin CPR.
On Tuesday, Tennessee-based Brookdale Senior Living Inc. reversed itself and said the unidentified employee had misinterpreted the company's guidelines and was on voluntary leave while the case is investigated.
Nonetheless, Bayless' family said it was her desire to forgo resuscitation efforts and that she died of natural causes, which her family said was her "greatest wish." The family said it has no intentions of suing the company or seeking punishment for its workers.
"They wish no hardship on those who were witnesses," said Sonja Eddings Brown, a spokeswoman for the family. "It is natural for there to be an appropriate investigation, and if Lorraine's death helps other families to learn from it or prepare for the future, then not only was her life a great blessing, but in some small way her passing too."
Bayless collapsed in the Glenwood Gardens dining hall. Someone called 911 on a cellphone and asked for an ambulance. Later, a woman who identified herself as a nurse got on the line and told dispatcher Tracey Halvorson she was not permitted to do CPR on the woman.
Halvorson implored the nurse to find someone else and said she would instruct them on how to perform CPR.
"I understand if your facility is not willing to do that," Halvorson said. "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?"
By the time paramedics arrived, Bayless had stopped breathing.