Tough call: following policy or saving a life

By: Olga Michail Email
By: Olga Michail Email

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- When it comes to emergency situations, what is more important following the policy or saving a life?

Caregivers say it's a difficult decision. In some states, if you try and fail in resuscitation you could be held accountable, and if you don't, you could be held accountable as well.

And as we found out, not all, but most assisted living centers here in Eau Claire don't have an overall Do Not Resuscitate Policy in emergency situations, unless the individual resident chooses that option.

“We have a policy of if they want to be saved; we're going to do everything we can to save them," said Assistant Director at Apple Valley Assisted Living, Missy Joers.

Mooreen King placed her brother Tom, at Apple Valley Assisted Living years ago. She said Apple Valley's emergency policy was clear right away.

"They basically asked us questions what we would want the caregiver to do. And we said yes, we would like them to resuscitate and take care of him whatever way that they can,” said King.

“You go by your instincts; if you feel you can do it, and you feel you're going to be successful, and if you don't then dial 911, then ask for a professional to help you,” said Joers.

“If I fell, or I was chocking, I would want them to help me,” said Melisa Biegel, Apple Valley Homes resident of three years.

“It’s all about what would their family want. If this was my mom, if this was my dad, if this was my aunt, my cousin, I would want someone there to help me, to ensure that I would be able to see them again,” said Joers.

Without proper certification herself, Joers says when it comes down to a choice between being liable or a life of one of her residence, a life will always win.

“I love life, I want everyone else to enjoy it too,” said Joers.

“I think life wins. You’ve got to help people; that's what it's all about. I would never ever sue anybody for trying to do something good. Never,” said King.

Under Wisconsin law, if an individual attempts resuscitation without proper certification the person “shall be immune from civil liability for his or her actions. This immunity doesn't extend to employees trained in health care or health care professionals.”

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