Liability concerns are slowing the University of Cincinnati Undergraduate Student Government’s plan to train resident hall advisers in CPR.
The Student Safety Board drafted a bill urging UC resident advisers to become CPR certified for SG’s April 3 meeting.
The bill also would require UC to purchase two Automatic External Defibrillators every year for the lobbies of each residence hall.
Joe Blizzard, student body president, said Residence Education and Development asked SG to table the bill due to uncertainty surrounding liability issues.
“Our office has been in the process of researching liability concerns, which includes communication with staff in the Offices of General Counsel and Risk Management,” said Margaret Fogler, assistant director at RED.
Fogler declined to comment further because she still has many unanswered questions on the matter.
“We do intend to have further meetings [with RED and General Council], especially because we’re hearing contradictory things from General Council about Ohio state law,” said Joshua Kellam, Student Safety Board senator.
SG honored RED’s request to table the bill, but discussed it. Many student senators are uneasy about entertaining the notion of weighing liability issues against student safety issues.
Christo Lassiter, UC law professor, said UC could be sued for recklessness if a CPR certified student — as required by the university — made a fatal mistake while attempting to resuscitate another student.
“The requirement of CPR status, in some respects makes liability more likely since UC would then be holding the RA out as a first responder,” Lassiter said. “Generally, mistakes that beget liability must be gross.”
Lassiter noted an RA also could face liability should he or she make a mistake. However, the RA would “probably win out … unless he or she is criminally negligent,” he said.
One of the concerns surrounding the bill is the possibility of an RA not acting when CPR is needed. Lassiter said the RA’s “duty of care” keeps him or her liable on the theory of negligence.
Ohio State University, the University of Missouri and Wesley College already require RA’s to be CPR certified, according to their websites.
Central Michigan University requires teacher’s aides to become CPR certified, but does not specify whether or not RA’s are required to be CPR certified, according to its website.
Some UC staff and faculty already are required to be CPR certified, including recreation center staff.
Many students at UC didn’t know their RA was not CPR certified.
“I think they should be [CPR certified] in case of an emergency,” said Holly Flick, a first-year pre-nursing student.
Others said it is acceptable for resident advisers not to have CPR training, but it would be better if they did.
Guillermo Morales, a first-year exploratory studies student, said there should be a transition in the future toward CPR certification.
“Yes, because if there’s an emergency [an RA] can help right away, but if not [an RA] can get help immediately,” said Josh Darnell, a first-year exploratory studies student.
Cardiac arrest is the leading cause of death in the country, and receiving help via CPR or an Automated External Defibrillator increases the chance of survival by 90 percent, according to the American Heart Association.
Only 32 percent of cardiac arrest victims get CPR from a bystander and only 8 percent live when going into cardiac arrest outside of a hospital, according to the American Heart Association. Four out of five cardiac arrests happen at home.
Multiple resident advisers declined to comment because it is against policy for them to speak with the media as an RA or representative of RED.
It’s uncertain if or when the bill will be passed, Blizzard said. Until RED, UC General Council and SG resolve the possible liability issues the bill will remain tabled.