When responding to an emergency in a different state or territory, volunteers need to be prepared for more than what conditions to expect. They also need to know how the laws in that state or territory may affect their response.
The University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health’s Center for Public Health Practice has created an easy-to-use, mobile-friendly resource called the “Emergency Law Inventory,” or ELI, to help emergency responders become of aware of the laws that may impact their response, such as nuances in each state’s Good Samaritan Law or whether medical certifications are valid across state lines. The tool is especially useful to volunteers responding to the hurricane devastation in Puerto Rico, Texas, Florida and other areas, and is accessible at www.legalinventory.pitt.edu.
ELI was funded by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and is free to use. Users can easily navigate the database with their smart phone, tablet, laptop or desktop computer, and the laws can be printed in advance so they are accessible offline.
Users can specify what type of responder they are (nurse, firefighter, student, etc) and what state or territory they’ll be in, as well as whether an emergency declaration has been issued or not. ELI then gives simple lay summaries of the laws that impact that particular user, as well as the full text of the law.
The resource is intended as a public service to help people be aware of what laws may impact them. It should not be used as a substitute for obtaining legal advice from an attorney licensed or authorized to practice in the jurisdiction in question.