Knowledge, First Aid and the Moral Requirements of Rescue
Huckle, Ryan James
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In cases involving the rescue of people in need of immediate medical care, it is often thought that the responsibility to save the lives of the imperilled falls to advanced professionals, such as paramedics, doctors, nurses, etc. This tells only part of the story, however, as in many cases the first point of contact for a person under duress is non-professional bystanders – average people with often little to no training in first aid or medicine. If the first point of contact is the bystander, do these bystanders have an obligation to help? Even if we assume that it is good to help people in need, the answer is not immediately obvious. Matters become more complicated when the bystander does have training that would make their intervention efficacious in helping the victim. Are they expected to help because they are trained and could presumably help more? This thesis seeks to examine this question and argue the following two conclusions: first, in terms of rescue cases, trained bystanders, whom I call informed rescuers, are morally required to act because of their training; and second, given the special role of knowledge in rescue, those who do not possess training in first aid can be held morally blameworthy for failing to know how to act in rescue cases. Because of this, everyone ought to learn basic first aid.