Would you put protocol aside to save a life?

POSTED: 10:13 PM PST Mar 04, 2013    UPDATED: 10:17 PM PST Mar 04, 2013 
PALM DESERT, Calif. -

"As a human being, I don't know, is there anybody there that  is willing to help this lady and not let her die?"

"Not at this time."

That's the harrowing conversation that took place between a dispatcher and an employee at Glenwood Gardens Independent Living Community in Bakersfield.

More than seven minutes later on the phone, still no CPR for 87-year-old Lorraine Bayless, and she later died.     

"They should be helped. Otherwise you can stay home and die. Isn't that why you go in a facility in order to be taken care of?" Liane petri said.

The Glenwood employee says she followed protocol, though.

Independent living communities generally aren't licensed to provide medical services. In an emergency, staff calls 911 and waits with the resident.

"We have not found any signs of any criminal misconduct.. however the investigation is ongoing,"
Sgt. Jason Matson of the Bakersfield Police Department said.

Why watch someone die, though, some people are wondering.

"In this day of litigation and things, personally, yeah. But I know what they face. They face all kinds of legal ramifications," David Pond said.

Others say the staffer had nothing to lose legally.

"Hundreds of people are trained for CPR in case of emergency. Like a car accident on the street," Petri said.
 
"If there weren't any papers saying she couldn't give, then she should have. The nurse should have given CPR," Jenifer Lightner said.

The papers she mentions --  a DNR order some residents might have -- do not resuscitate.

Bayless didn't have one.
 
A representative from the Fountains at the Carlotta retirement community in Palm Desert made this statement: In all cases of emergency, 911 will be called. If there is no knowledge of a DNR request, we will provide CPR if the associate is adequately trained or being instructed by a 911 operator.

"I couldn't do it. I couldn't let somebody die right in front of me. If it's just a simple CPR thing, let the paramedics deal with the DNR stuff. I'm going to keep them going until the paramedics show up," Pond said.

So far, the investigation hasn't revealed any wrongdoing, but this has raised concerns that policies at senior living facilities could prevent staff from intervening in medical emergencies.