Back in the day when I was going through EMT-Basic, my instructor said something along the lines that it was a DOT law that any and all life safety trained persons ( also stated that anyone with a US Driver lic. fell under this also ) are required to stop and provide aide to any motorist in need of medical, fire, or etc. Anyone one who failed to due so, with exception to those who could not due to due regard of personal safety, could be fined and/or arrested for failure to assist / leaving the scene of an accident...

Can anyone verify this, and if possible provide the DOT code that covers this. I am a life safety instructor and I am writing a Good Same course.

Thanks for the help


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that only applies when it is known that you know how, like in vermont for example, if i have firefighter plates, or decals on my pov, and drive by without helping, i fall under abandonment. but if i have nothing on my pov, and nobody can tell, then you are fine. of course, i would have a hard time living with myself if i did not help out, but whatever. so to help you out, it goes state by state, just like transfering guns from state to state, check the laws, make sure you cover your light bar in NY, and don't pass a crash in vermont if you have fire or ems displayed on your pov.
"Duty to act" is what you are referring to.

You have a legal duty to act (i.e. render patient care) if you are an on-duty member of an EMS service, and that service is called to provide care for a patient. Failure to fulfill this legal duty to act can result in your being sued for negligence if the failure act results in harm to the patient.

A moral duty to act results from us having been trained in lifesaving techniques and knowing what to do in an emergency, while we are OFF DUTY. Using the example of coming upon an accident scene outside of one's jurisdiction, that person has to decide if the scene is safe enough to stop and render aid. It may not be possible if one doesn't have any equipment or the scene is unsafe. It becomes a moral dilemma on the part of the potential rescuer, but there is absolutely no legal responsibility to act.

Now, what I am reciting here is from NYS, although I believe this state's policies conform to the US DOT's standards. It may be different from state to state but I'd be surprised if it was.

Regarding the bit about anyone with a drivers' license being required to stop at a crash, that sounds like another piece of misinformation. From the NYS Drivers' Manual:

"Do not stop at a crash scene unless you are involved or emergency help has not yet arrived. Otherwise, keep your attention on driving and the directions given by traffic officers."

"If you are involved in a crash you must stop, regardless of the extent of damage. It is a traffic violation to leave the scene of an incident, such as a traffic crash involving property damage. It is a criminal violation to leave the scene of an incident involving a fatality or personal injury."

As I say, this is the New York State spin on things.
Here are some excerpts from NYS Bureau of EMS Policy Statement 98-05, "Responsibilities of EMS Providers & Coordination of EMS Resources"


“Several NYS statutes provide public safety agencies and their personnel with the authority to conduct operations consistent with their responsibility to protect their citizens. These include providing services at and managing emergency conditions which may effect the health, safety or welfare of individuals and communities…

“These statutes, which describe arrest powers for peace/police officers and the responsibilities of a fire chief during the response to a fire or explosion were adopted prior to EMS gaining formal recognition as an emergency response provider. The statutes are vague in detail and do not specifically address the responsibilities for providing patient care. In the absence of other controlling statutes, Public Health Law, therefore, takes precedence in regard to the provision of prehospital emergency medical care.

“NYS statutes do not obligate an individual citizen, regardless of training, to respond to a situation or provide care unless there is a formal duty by job description or role expectation. Such a duty to act arises from participation with an agency having jurisdiction.”

Pursuant to the provisions of Public Health Law, the individual having the highest level of prehospital certification and who is responding with authority(1), "has a duty to act" and therefore is responsible(2) for providing and/or directing emergency medical care and the transportation of a patient. Such care and direction shall be in accordance with all NYS standards of training, applicable State and Regional protocols and may be provided under direct medical control.

End note 1. Certified persons have NO authority or responsibility to respond independently. In NY there is no duty to act as an individual citizen, regardless of certification or licensure. Individuals may respond only as a part of an authorized agency's response system and within an EMS system.

Full document:
I'm not sure about it being law or applying to general higher trained individuals (1st responder, EMT, Paramedic etc.) duty to act falls into play. Whether it is an actual law, I can't say, but I have heard that, if you are readily identifiable as someone medically or rescue trained and do not stop, AND it is determined that your not stopping was directly attributing to the patient's could be held personally liable. I have not heard of any cases of such but it is definitely some interesting study material. There is another thread similar to this one at

I do know other entities have been sued for failure follow their duty to act such as schools not stopping bullying until it escalates, nursing homes turning a blind eye to abuse and the such. It would be difficult to prove, but, if your guys are like myself and many other responders, with a decal (s) on their vehicle identifying them as firefighters, emts ect. and someone manages to recognize and jot your tag down, then, in the lawsuit happy reality that we live in...I guess someone could raise that issue.
Joe has it right. Duty to act is not just a NY reference or law, it is also in Washington State. It is an WAC and I will look up the correct one when I steal the latest book from my kid, who is going through the class right now. It can also be considered abandonment, if you were able to render aid and failed to do so. I will get back to you regarding the exact wording.
I want to ay thank you to all who have responded thus far. My students will not be, for the mot part, anything higher then Lay Person certified in CPR and First Aid. But i want the Good Sam class to cover both Lay person and above for when i get some First Responder classes.

If I remember right, my EMT B instructor stated that per Federal DOT law, anyone with a valid U drivers lic. was required to render aid in some form until a higher level provider was on scene. The only way to "avoid" this was to be unable to get to them safely... IE... accident on right shoulder of the interstate and you are in the far left with traffic coming..

When I am first due POV, I have in the past asked bystanders to act as proxies for traffic control, or medical assist under my direction.

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