To resuscitate or not?

You have chosen not to be resuscitated, and that is your right. You make that decision known with a “do not resuscitate” (DNR) pendant. However, first aiders and EROs are trained to act quickly and effectively in emergencies. It is not in line with their role to first search someone’s belongings for a DNR pendant. They are also not qualified or authorized to make life or death decisions (unless there is absolutely no doubt). This can create uncertainty for first responders. Below is the correct approach to this situation:

  1. Do resuscitate: withholding first aid from a victim can result in legal consequences.
  2. There is no time to search for a DNR declaration in someone’s pocket. Only a DNR pendant worn around the neck is a valid expression of the individual’s wishes. Otherwise, you must provide assistance; that’s your role as a first responder.
  3. Even if a family member claims there is such a declaration, you cannot rely on it.
  4. You must clearly explain to the family and onlookers that every second counts, and there is no time to search unless a DNR pendant is worn.
  5. The well-considered decision to continue or stop treatment can only be made in a hospital setting.
  6. If family members still hold the first responder accountable, a judge will determine whether the responder acted appropriately. The judge will consider the responder’s considerations, intentions, and responsibilities, and it is highly unlikely that a conviction or liability will follow.
  7. What would happen if a victim who wants to be resuscitated were to die because too much time was spent searching for a possible declaration?

A “do not resuscitate” pendant is a valid expression of an individual’s wishes.