Firefighter’s Rule Bars EMT Action For Injury by Unruly Patient After Completing Delivery of Different Patient

The Firefighter’s Rule bars an injured public-safety official from maintaining a negligence action against a tortfeasor whose alleged malfeasance is responsible for bringing the officer to the scene of a fire, crime, or other emergency where the officer is injured. The Firefighter’s Rule was applied to bar an action against a hospital by an EMT who, after transporting someone to the hospital, was injured while attempting to help a nurse subdue an unruly patient.


The EMT argued that the injury did not arise out of the circumstances that brought him to the hospital so the Firefighter’s Rule should not apply. However, the court held that when the EMT completed his original task of transporting the first patient to the hospital, he left the emergency scene involving the first patient and moved to a new emergency scene after a nurse at the hospital requested his assistance with a difficult patient. At that point, the first emergency ended and a new emergency, allegedly created by the negligent restraint of the patient, began. See: Higgins v. Rhode Island Hosp., 2012 WL 135445 (R.I. Jan 18, 2012) (not designated for publication).