Today’s question poses the scenario of:

A Security guard in a shopping centre is usually the appointed First Aider [as part of the Emergency Control Organisation [AS 3745-2010], dealing with the public. The security guard must hold a valid first aid certificate and normally this is the cheapest/ easiest course available. WHAT IF, when confronted with a life threatening first aid scenario such as a young child suffering from a possible anaphylactic reaction to a known trigger age and displaying symptoms, the security guard does not know what to do. I mean if they are qualified BUT NOT competent. Are they or the security firm liable as surely they are not covered under the good Samaritan act as this is part of their scope of practice and they are the nominated first aid officer.

No the security guard would not be a ‘good Samaritan’.  He or she is at work and if his her duties including providing first aid they are not acting without expectation of fee or reward.  The good Samaritan legislation in each jurisdiction would be irrelevant.

Could they be liable? The security firm could be vicariously liable for the negligence of its employee but there will only be liability if it can be shown that in the circumstances some other treatment would have made a difference to the outcome. That begs the question of what was the outcome?  If the patient recovers without long term injury then there is no damage.  If they do have long term disability what could the security guard have done?  A first aid certificate does not necessarily authorise someone to carry an epipen (a schedule 3 drug).   If there was no epipen available then there’s nothing the guard could have done even if he or she had wanted to do something.

The answer is we can’t know.  It all depends on the facts.

For a related answer see First aid by security guards (May 26, 2014).