NANAIMO, B.C. — A British Columbia law designed to protect emergency responders and Good Samaritans has been used for what's believed to be the first time against a man who vomited on a firefighter's face.
Provincial court Judge Brian Harvey issued an order for the man to be tested after he overdosed on a street in the Vancouver Island community of Nanaimo in early August.
The five-year-old Emergency Intervention Disclosure Act allows a judge to order a blood sample from a person if there's a chance disease could spread to a first responder or someone offering emergency care.
It's going to give us the peace of mind, that we know this individual will now be required to be tested.Nanaimo fire rescue chief Karen Fry
"It's a landmark decision for us, it's the first time it's been tested in a court of law,'' Nanaimo Fire Rescue chief Karen Fry said of the legislation. "It's going to give us the peace of mind, that we know this individual will now be required to be tested.''
The man, who Fry said was "brought back to life,'' has seven days from when he is served to get a blood test or face fines, according to lawyer Sean Smith, who is representing the firefighter.
Before rescue, man had left a hospital
Fry said the man being sought for a blood sample refused medical attention and left a hospital before a doctor could see him.
Firefighters wear protective gear, including gloves and goggles, during medical aid calls, but there's always a risk of transmitting disease, she said.
The firefighter remains on duty and has undergone a series of blood tests, Fry said. Results are not yet known.
It's a legislation that was never intended to be regularly used.Nanaimo fire chief Karen Fry
Smith said the legislation allows testing for hepatitis B and C, as well as HIV. He said blood tests on the firefighter, in this case, can't solely be relied upon because diseases can take time to manifest.
"It's a legislation that was never intended to be regularly used,'' he said, adding it provides first responders with a "security blanket'' to seek a court order.
This story was originally published on Nanaimo News Now.
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