Legislature approves Bronoske bill to provide protections for emergency volunteers

OLYMPIA—A bill by Rep. Dan Bronoske (D-Lakewood) to provide immunity protections to emergency services volunteers has received unanimous support in both chambers of the Washington Legislature. The bill passed the state Senate on Monday after receiving approval by the House of Representatives in March. This is the first bill by the new representative to pass the legislature.

House Bill 1209 expands Washington’s Good Samaritan Law by providing that a person is not liable for any act or omission while providing volunteer nonmedical care or assistance at the scene of an emergency or disaster, unless the act or omission rises to the level of gross negligence, or willful or wanton misconduct.

In explaining the bill, Rep. Bronoske commented, “Say a flood is approaching and the only way to help you escape is to break down a door or windows, response teams would be able to take that emergency step without fear of personal liability. That does not mean you would be left without financial help like insurance or disaster aid, just that the emergency volunteers responding would be protected too.”

He continued, “Hundreds in our community and many thousands across the state are serving as volunteers and are prepared to assist during emergencies and natural disasters. Programs like Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT) work collaboratively with agencies like West Pierce Fire & Rescue in this effort.”

“Many people did not realize that the existing Good Samaritan Law covered medical response only and this extension will now allow people to contribute their skills and knowledge in response to disasters. We are very grateful to Rep Bronoske for his sponsorship of this bill” said Cindi Barker of the Seattle Emergency Communications Hubs.

The legislation now heads to Governor Inslee for his signature.