Columbia, SC (WLTX) -- CPR experts say the first five minutes of an emergency are crucial.
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In South Carolina, citizens performing CPR on a person during an emergency situation are protected from lawsuits under the state's Good Samaritan law.
"At first you want to check the scene and make sure it is ok for you as a responder," Red Cross instructor Stanley Dowling teaches CPR classes, making sure that in emergency situations, certified citizens and even medical professionals apply the correct techniques.
"There's 30 compressions, two rescue breaths. That's one cycle of CPR," said Dowling.
But even if you're not certified in CPR, Dowling says South Carolina law protects anyone who tries to provide care in an emergency situation.
The "Good Samaritan Law" protects citizens from being held liable for any civil damage or personal injury during Emergency care, as long as the person giving the care does so in good faith.
The law states (Section 15-1-310): "Any person, who in good faith gratuitously renders emergency care at the scene of an accident or emergency to the victim thereof, shall not be liable for any civil damages for any personal injury as a result of any act or omission by such person in rendering the emergency care or as a result of any act or failure to act to provide or arrange for further medical treatment or care for the injured person, except acts or omissions amounting to gross negligence or wilful or wanton misconduct."
Brooke Russell with the South Carolina National Safety Council says even if a citizens accidentally breaks a victims rib during CPR, they cannot be held liable.
"Being able to provide CPR, on the on set of cardiac arrest, is life or death," said Russell. "It's a way to protect innocent bystanders for stepping up to do something right."
Under the law, Russell says medical professionals like nurses and doctors must offer assistance, unless a patient has signed a do not resuscitate legal order.
"There are different requirements for nurses and doctors," said Russell.
Dowling has helped over three hundred citizens achieve CPR certification. Classes he says may be the difference in saving someone's life.
"We want to give someone a chance, and if you are not trained or certified in this skill how can you give them a chance," asked Dowling.
You can find information on CPR training at the South Carolina National Safety Council and at the American Red Cross websites.