Proos: lifeguards should be thanked for saving lives, not sued

LANSING – State Sen. John Proos introduced legislation Thursday to add lifeguards to the list of first responders protected under Michigan’s Good Samaritan Act.

“As a former lifeguard, I know the critical duty they preform every day at swimming pools and lakes throughout Michigan,” said Proos, R-St. Joseph. “We should be thanking them for keeping our families safe, not opening them up to frivolous lawsuits. My bill will extend the protections of the state’s Good Samaritan law to lifeguards.”

The Good Samaritan law is meant to encourage individuals to offer voluntary aid in an emergency and to legally protect people from litigation when rendering emergency care. The list of first responders currently protected under the act includes paramedics, doctors, nurses, police officers, firefighters, marine vessel operators, restaurant owners and employees, and disaster relief workers among others.

Under Proos’ legislation, a certified lifeguard would not be liable for civil damages that might result from an act or omission associated with emergency care unless that action is shown to be the result of gross negligence or willful misconduct.

“During a water emergency, lifeguards are often the first people at the scene and can often make the difference between life and death,” Proos said. “They are highly trained and prepared to risk their own lives to save someone else. I believe we owe this liability protection to those who are working to keep us safe as we enjoy summer in Michigan.”