Cops, firefighters stand by and watch as California man drowns

posted at 10:00 pm on June 3, 2011 by Allahpundit

Not just cops and firefighters, either. Spectators watched too, including his elderly stepmother, who was too frail to dive into the water herself.

It took an hour.

Weaver noted that a 2009 policy – revoked this week – prohibited firefighters from participating in water rescues. The policy was implemented after budget cuts ended water-rescue training. OK, I counter, but surely some first responders had been trained before 2009. Weaver’s answer: Yes, but they lacked the right equipment.

Weaver assured me that the firefighters who were on the scene feel horrible about what happened. “Every one of our members who was on that scene wishes that the policy would have allowed them to do something at some point,” he explained.

Any firefighter who broke with policy could have landed in a world of bureaucratic payback. That’s the problem. No government worker in America gets fired for following the rules.

As Russo put it, “We need an approach toward public service that is less rule-bound and more willing to take risk.”

That’s Debra Saunders, wondering whether the PD and FD would have been as respectful of bureaucratic rules if it had been a kid out there drowning. Cops note that there was no way to tell whether Zack was armed and dangerous, but of course that’s true for almost anyone attempting suicide. A guy sitting on a bridge rail is as likely to be concealing a weapon as this guy was, yet police will still try to grab him if they can. The city’s not buying the excuses, in any event: Given the national outcry over what happened, they’ve already decided to relax the policy against water rescues.

Wondering how the body was brought back to shore, incidentally? Turns out … a bystander decided to swim out there and get it, once Zack finally went horizontal in the water and started floating face down. Exit question: Isn’t this story just a darker, more tragic version of this one?

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Justice and mercy they hath none. They are so low that all other lots they should envy.

HalJordan on June 3, 2011 at 11:16 PM

Given the national outcry over what happened, they’ve already decided to relax the policy against water rescues.

Barn door, horse gone etc. Good reaction time there political pukes.

MikeA on June 3, 2011 at 11:18 PM

Patton would have them all shot.

HalJordan on June 3, 2011 at 11:18 PM

Where’s a $100,000 plus California Life Guard when you need one?

drfredc on June 3, 2011 at 11:19 PM

Public Sector Unions are not needed.

Key West Reader on June 3, 2011 at 11:20 PM

Patton would have them all shot.

HalJordan on June 3, 2011 at 11:18 PM

Why waste the bullets.

Jesse on June 3, 2011 at 11:20 PM

And while we’re all wringing our hands about “hell in a handbasket” and “heroes”, etc., does no one understand the subtle difference between a “drowning man” and a “suicide”?

Really?

Jaibones on June 3, 2011 at 11:05 PM

Well I understood the difference but so what? Their policy doesn’t say no water rescue for suicides.. it just said no water rescue.. period! So tomorrow if it was some other adult who wasn’t doing themselves in, according to this video. they still would have all just sat and watched that person drown from the beach!

But regardless, maybe he committed suicide and maybe not. No one really talked to him since he drowned! Maybe the guy was just high on something! Maybe he was just suffering from diabetic shock and was confused. Nobody may ever know for sure because he’s dead now! He drowned.

But then again, maybe he did want to kill himself. Maybe he did because the guy felt he hadn’t a friend in the world! And you know what, if that was true, if he really thought that, well, I guess he had his suspicions confirmed because as he drowned no one cared enough to even try to save him! It must have been quite a sad last few moments for a sick man who felt worthless enough to kill himself.. drowning in the ocean and watching the rescue personnel not even care.. standing their with their hands in their freaking pockets.

JellyToast on June 3, 2011 at 11:21 PM

This situation is a lot more to it than the people not going to help. This man was suicidal and put himself in a very bad situation to kill himself. If someone went out there and was not ready for it in that he wanted to kill himself the rescuers would need rescuing. When they had to deal with him fighting them as he wanted to die and fighting the water, they could have had to pulled out two or three bodies from the water. If this man jumped off the Bay Bridge and was seen struggling in the water no one would jump in to save him. It could take an hour to get a boat to the center of the bridge and collect the body then too. Just because he was just off shore and could be got if someone swam does not guarantee a rescue for both.

We want to believe that first responders would risk their life for anyone and go into any danger to save everyone but some people are just in a situation, some being there own doing and some not that they can not be saved.

tjexcite on June 3, 2011 at 11:23 PM

In March 2009, four Oakland LEOs (Sgt. Mark Dunakin, Officer John Hege, Sgt. Ervin Romans and Sgt. Daniel Sakai) were gunned down by a parolee. All sorts of sympathy was heaped upon the Oakland PD from people across the nation. Funds were set up for donations to the wives and children of the slain officers. I know, because I donated.

The community was there in the police department’s time of grief and need.

Apparently, when a member of the community finds himself in a time of grief and need, the Oakland PD can’t be bothered.

Left Coast Right Mind on June 3, 2011 at 11:25 PM

Another golden moment for my Golden State…

Khun Joe on June 3, 2011 at 11:26 PM

Even Michael Jackson probably would have waded in. Brittney Spears may even have. How can they face their children?

HalJordan on June 3, 2011 at 11:26 PM

Jaibones on June 3, 2011 at 11:05 PM

I guess you’re referring to my comment about “heroes”. I’m not sure I’d characterize my comment as “hand-wringing.” But, I’ll concede your premise that the guy was trying to kill himself and posed a theat to the physical well-being of the police and rescue personnel and that any normal human being would be driven by self-preservation. Sure.

But so does almost any situation they get into where they’re called on over and above what a civilian would be expected to do. My observation is just that this is the direction we’re heading, good or bad. I don’t think public officials and LEOs would have a much bigger fan than me, but this I just don’t understand. There’s always something you can try.

Maybe I should have said, imagine the world with only strict pragmatists.

hawkdriver on June 3, 2011 at 11:26 PM

The Atlas Shrugged train crash in real life.

hadsil on June 3, 2011 at 11:27 PM

Even Michael Jackson probably would have waded in. Brittney Spears may even have. How can they face their children?

HalJordan on June 3, 2011 at 11:26 PM

How can they face their children? You serious? This is San Francisco! They abort their children!

JellyToast on June 3, 2011 at 11:28 PM

DEATH PANEL!

Pole-Cat on June 3, 2011 at 11:28 PM

Left Coast Right Mind on June 3, 2011 at 11:25 PM

That’s what makes this so sad. Of all the people you think you would be able to rely on, Police, Firefighters, etc.. to be there for you in need…they just stand there and watch you die.

Jesse on June 3, 2011 at 11:29 PM

We want to believe that first responders would risk their life for anyone and go into any danger to save everyone but some people are just in a situation, some being there own doing and some not that they can not be saved.

tjexcite on June 3, 2011 at 11:23 PM

the reason that was given was that the “policy” would not let them…implying that they could have saved him.

equanimous on June 3, 2011 at 11:29 PM

I was a volunteer firefighter in a small town. Everyone grabbed an ax when things got out of control. We didn’t have all the water training and never got a cent, but we put out fires and saved lives. These guys are a disgrace, pure and simple.

Hening on June 3, 2011 at 11:29 PM

Way back when I earned my LifeGuard Merit badge, we were trained to deal with panicked individuals and get them safely back to shore. I’m sure some of these public servants had at least that level of training, if not much more…So, if the guy did put a fight he should’ve been rescuable…

Gohawgs on June 3, 2011 at 11:30 PM

We want to believe that first responders would risk their life for anyone and go into any danger to save everyone but some people are just in a situation, some being there own doing and some not that they can not be saved.

tjexcite on June 3, 2011 at 11:23 PM

the reason that was given was that the “policy” would not let them…implying that they could have saved him.

equanimous on June 3, 2011 at 11:29 PM

and now they have forty thousand extra dollars…

equanimous on June 3, 2011 at 11:33 PM

Hening on June 3, 2011 at 11:29 PM

My late brother Rusty was a volunteer fireman in Avis PA. There aren’t many people in this world I admire more.

hawkdriver on June 3, 2011 at 11:35 PM

Even Brian Williams starts off his broad cast with “Two stories in the news that have to do with “procedures, rules and regulations…”
Yeah, it’s all the rules fault! Their hands were tied!

No.. their hands weren’t tied. Their minds were blinded to their own responsibility and their hearts were callous and hardened to their own humanity!

JellyToast on June 3, 2011 at 11:38 PM

Where’s a $100,000 plus California Life Guard when you need one?

drfredc on June 3, 2011 at 11:19 PM

It’s actually $200K lifeguards. Maybe if they were paid $20K the extra money could go to some water rescue training for everyone else.

angryed on June 3, 2011 at 11:38 PM

JellyToast on June 3, 2011 at 11:38 PM

There always has to be a fall guy. And the truth suffers for it.

Jesse on June 3, 2011 at 11:40 PM

You know, people hate religion and the church because of all the rules! Yeah, baby, we all hate rules when God is giving them! We want to be free! But let the same people who hate God have to get their feet wet to save a life… nope! Can’t be done! We have rules to follow around here!

JellyToast on June 3, 2011 at 11:41 PM

JellyToast on June 3, 2011 at 11:41 PM

It’s why I said about being slaves to legalism. Christ made it clear that legalism was an enemy that should be fought. Take this as an example why.

Jesse on June 3, 2011 at 11:43 PM

I guess you’re referring to my comment about “heroes”.

hawkdriver on June 3, 2011 at 11:26 PM

Hawk: No, I wasn’t. I actually didn’t read your comment, but maybe someone was quoting you. I have two points:

1) There are lots of very brave and responsible First Responders left in the world, even if a lot of them are public employee union hacks;

2) Suicide is not the same as some guy fell in the water and is drowning. The difference is all in attitude.

Sorry that my lack of empathy in this situation puts me on the same team as some firemen following an unpopular public policy, but we cannot stop all bad things from happening. I wouldn’t have gone in after this guy, and I won’t blame the cops for following policy, either.

Jaibones on June 3, 2011 at 11:44 PM

Stupid policy KILLS!

Just ask a soldier.

Uncle Sams Nephew on June 3, 2011 at 11:47 PM

bones.you’re pathetic.

CW on June 3, 2011 at 11:49 PM

Jaibones on June 3, 2011 at 11:44 PM

Again, the policy was they wouldn’t have gone after ANYONE! Regardless of whether it was a suicide or not. You and I both know had this been a relative of theirs, this would have even be an issue.

Jesse on June 3, 2011 at 11:50 PM

I don’t give a crap if he was drowning accidentally or trying to kill himself – it’s unconscionable to stand by and do nothing, equipment or not, rules or not.

Stop making f@#$ing excuses disgusting behavior.

Midas on June 3, 2011 at 11:13 PM

What makes you think they did nothing? It sounds like they spend most of an hour trying to convince the guy to get out of the water before he drowned. I guess they could have threatened to shoot him or arrest him if he killed himself, but …

Do you think they were lying?

sharrukin on June 3, 2011 at 11:12 PM

No. I think they were trying to explain something that’s difficult to explain.

You guys can all try to simplify this down to an MSNBC sound bite if you want, but it doesn’t sound all that simple to me.

Jaibones on June 3, 2011 at 11:53 PM

You and I both know had this been a relative of theirs, this would have even be an issue.

Jesse on June 3, 2011 at 11:50 PM

I think you’re stretching pretty far, now. We should stick to the facts on this one.

Jaibones on June 3, 2011 at 11:54 PM

What if it was a child?

Would the Union Boss respond in the same way? Do Union Bosses get to decide what life is worth saving?

Unions = Legalized Mafia

Key West Reader on June 3, 2011 at 11:54 PM

Jaibones on June 3, 2011 at 11:53 PM

Going in and trying to save someone’s life isn’t very complicated. Unless you purposefully make it that way, so you have an excuse not to help. But hey, whatever helps you sleep at night.

Jesse on June 3, 2011 at 11:56 PM

I think you’re stretching pretty far, now. We should stick to the facts on this one.

Jaibones on June 3, 2011 at 11:54 PM

How would I be stretching it though? Do you think “policy” would take president over one of them saving their own? It’s much easier to do this with a complete stranger.

Jesse on June 3, 2011 at 11:57 PM

Oh boy! This burns me. What I really want to know is what these ‘public employees, servants, whatever’ have a union contract restricting them from certain procedures. Read the By-Laws of these Public-Employees Unions and see where the truth lies.

geminicontender on June 3, 2011 at 11:58 PM

No. I think they were trying to explain something that’s difficult to explain.

Jaibones on June 3, 2011 at 11:53 PM

What were they trying to explain by saying they wouldn’t have saved a small child if they were drowning in the same situation?

sharrukin on June 3, 2011 at 11:58 PM

Unions had a place back in the… oh, 1900′s.

When the Feds silenced Al Capone, he gave a warning that he’d be back with a vengeance.

Welcome, Unions. Legalized Mafioso. Infested in every sector that makes it count. You gotta pay to play!

Unions prohibit productivity, they strong arm American businesses, they promote a leftist agenda. There is no current need for Union workers.

Key West Reader on June 3, 2011 at 11:58 PM

Key West Reader on June 3, 2011 at 11:54 PM

The guy they were talking to said the policy is the same if it were a child.

Jesse on June 3, 2011 at 11:59 PM

Those trying to make sense of the debacle attribute the incident to budget cuts, a bad policy and the fact that saving Zack’s life was a risky proposition. Zack weighed 300 pounds. He was suicidal, and therefore unstable. If he had been armed and wanted to take someone with him, then it would have been difficult for any would-be rescuers to get away safely.

There’s a saying among firefighters: A dead firefighter never saved anyone’s life.

I’m a little surprised that all of you can so blithely ignore this part of the story. Quick show of hands — when was the last time any of you jumped into the water to rescue a 300 pound man who didn’t want to be rescued?

Anyone?

Jaibones on June 3, 2011 at 11:59 PM

Jaibones on June 3, 2011 at 11:53 PM

There was a college kid in my area who partied too much, tried to stumble home, and splashed into the lake.

Mercifully, even though he was dumb, the first responders dragged him back to safety and he’s now alive and kicking. And sober, too, apparently.

This past winter, a group in my area were ice fishing, and the ice they were on split and three of them plunged in. Thankfully, the brave fist responders got them all back to safety.

Using your logic, which of the above are we not bothering with?

I guess if you’re drowning in a kiddie pool on your front lawn on a bright, sunny day, you’ll be saved. Anything else involving smoke or neck-high water or heights, you’re kind of out of luck.

12thMonkey on June 4, 2011 at 12:01 AM

Jaibones on June 3, 2011 at 11:59 PM

Would I have tried? Sure. But his weight wasn’t an issue. Unless the policy is “don’t save 300 pound adults and children”. But I highly doubt it.

Jesse on June 4, 2011 at 12:02 AM

Jaibones on June 3, 2011 at 11:44 PM

There’s nothing you said that was untrue. They were following rules and it was a suicide and everything else. And no one can say what exactly they would do when asked if they have what it takes to go over and above. I have seen kids/men that swore they were going to single-handedly turn the tide on the next deployment who accomplished nothing of note. And then seen quiet unassuming men and women who just seem to come out of nowhere and do the most amazing things.

And honestly when I commented that I just didn’t understand what happened there, it was mostly because of the time. I wouldn’t presume to question what was right or wrong about what these officers did or didn’t do. There was just so much time though. I’d really like to what was going through their minds for that hour.

hawkdriver on June 4, 2011 at 12:03 AM

Going in and trying to save someone’s life isn’t very complicated. Unless you purposefully make it that way, so you have an excuse not to help.

Jesse on June 3, 2011 at 11:56 PM

I sleep just fine at night, but please … explain. I am not a great swimmer and the swimmers I know seem to express great concern about the potential danger of rescuing a drowning person because they sometimes grab you in desperation and prevent you from swimming.

You are of a different opinion.

Jaibones on June 4, 2011 at 12:04 AM

a 300 pound man who didn’t want to be rescued?

Anyone?

Jaibones on June 3, 2011 at 11:59 PM

*jawdrop*

Good heavens, I couldn’t even lift that much deadweight on dry land.

Uncle Sams Nephew on June 4, 2011 at 12:05 AM

I’m a little surprised that all of you can so blithely ignore this part of the story. Quick show of hands — when was the last time any of you jumped into the water to rescue a 300 pound man who didn’t want to be rescued?

Anyone?

Jaibones on June 3, 2011 at 11:59 PM

It didn’t matter WHAT the man wanted. What mattered is that the responders had a duty to try and save his life…and they didn’t.
The Nazis claimed that they were only following the rules as well.

annoyinglittletwerp on June 4, 2011 at 12:05 AM

2) Suicide is not the same as some guy fell in the water and is drowning. The difference is all in attitude.
Jaibones on June 3, 2011 at 11:44 PM

I agree, the difference is in your attitude!
For whatever reason you are biased against suicide victims. For what reason i do not know. but I suppose you are lumping people who attempt suicide into one kind of category. Maybe you are thinking they are all like the nutcases who want to go out in a blaze of glory.. kill others and themselves. Or maybe you have been tainted by all the suicide bombers you hear about. I don’t know, but this thing you have that somehow somebody wants to commit suicide isn’t worth saving is pretty creepy and pretty sad!

Forget about the scumbags that are just murderers and then kill themselves in the process. Forget about them. I don’t care about them either, but that’s not the majority of suicide victims.
Most suicides occur by accident. People who are trying to get attention from there spouses, family or friends. They talk about it all the time and they have attempted it more than once. They attempt suicide just before their husband comes home because they know he’ll find them and call 911! Thy don’t really want to die but, one day they miscalculate and the husband comes home an hour late. They succeed.

The other type are people who really mean it. But, they never talk about it. They hide it from everyone and yet they can never stop thinking about doing themselves in.
They feel trapped, they are sick, they feel defeated, tired, useless, life is over. Their happiest time comes when they finally make the decision. Are these the people you think are not worth saving?

JellyToast on June 4, 2011 at 12:05 AM

hawkdriver on June 4, 2011 at 12:03 AM

What was going through their minds was “Hey, we just saved a bundle and didn’t even have to get wet”.

Jesse on June 4, 2011 at 12:05 AM

12thMonkey on June 4, 2011 at 12:01 AM

Let me know if you want to have an honest discussion of the story, or just flail around. I’m not in a flailing mood tonight.

Jaibones on June 4, 2011 at 12:06 AM

annoyinglittletwerp on June 4, 2011 at 12:05 AM

And here I thought we were friends. Really? Nazis?

Jaibones on June 4, 2011 at 12:07 AM

when was the last time any of you jumped into the water to rescue a 300 pound man who didn’t want to be rescued?

Anyone?

Jaibones on June 3, 2011 at 11:59 PM

And we’re not rescuing fat people, either, I guess.

Please note… nowhere in the article does it suggest the conditions were too difficult for a rescue. Some nurse apparently dragged this guy back to land on her own, so the “fat ass” argument doesn’t hold.

Was he too aggressive to allow a rescue? We don’t know. It doesn’t say that was the reason they didn’t attempt the rescue. The didn’t attempt the rescue because of POLICY.

Maybe he was just looking for attention, and if a dozen folks went out to get him, he would have given in.

Or maybe we would have waded out even farther, and fought and flailed, and that would have been that.

But we’re not talking about him wading out farther or him fighting with the first responders… because they were all still on dry land when he drowned.

12thMonkey on June 4, 2011 at 12:07 AM

For whatever reason you are biased against suicide victims.

JellyToast on June 4, 2011 at 12:05 AM

Good night, sir.

Jaibones on June 4, 2011 at 12:08 AM

I already stated my opinion when this was in the headlines. I think they should have gone in the water if they could have safely saved him, I like to think that I would have tried to help, but I’m not outraged and I’m not going to seriously pretend this is on the same level as not saving a drowning child.

I think sometimes suicide is nature’s self-destruct button that some people push because they sense that something is not right with their heads. Read up on the UT Austin shooter. In his suicide note he requested an autopsy be performed on him to determine if there was a reason he had been having these violent, irrational thoughts. They found he did have a brain tumor. Read up about Shirley Jane Turner. She had been rescued from a previous suicide attempt, years later she killed the father of her baby, then after that strapped the baby to her chest and jumped into the ocean. Most of the worst acts of violence against others incorporate suicide. They either commit the mass violence and then shoot themselves, or they commit violence expecting and hoping to be shot. (See Jared Laughner I believe.)

I think we should try to help suicidal people if we can. But I’m not going to become morally outraged over this story because I don’t support the weird “we must save all suicidal people at all costs” attitude in this country. Some people want to die. Let them die. You guys probably know suicidal people and can’t be bothered to even listen to them or sympathize with them–but at least you get outraged when they die at their own hands. Grats on your compassion.

BTW, I have deprssion and have been suicidal before.

Polynath on June 4, 2011 at 12:09 AM

I sleep just fine at night, but please … explain. I am not a great swimmer and the swimmers I know seem to express great concern about the potential danger of rescuing a drowning person because they sometimes grab you in desperation and prevent you from swimming.

You are of a different opinion.

Jaibones on June 4, 2011 at 12:04 AM

The sleep at night comment wasn’t posed at you per se, just the attitude of those there.

If you can’t save a life because you can’t swim or have difficulty doing so, of course you shouldn’t. It’s kinda why we have first responders for that. Unless we no longer need them?

Jesse on June 4, 2011 at 12:09 AM

And here I thought we were friends. Really? Nazis?

Jaibones on June 4, 2011 at 12:07 AM

We are friends. Wrong phrase. I still think the responders were wrong and heartless.
Better?

annoyinglittletwerp on June 4, 2011 at 12:10 AM

BTW, I have deprssion and have been suicidal before.

Polynath on June 4, 2011 at 12:09 AM

As have I.
I can never hurt my family like that.

annoyinglittletwerp on June 4, 2011 at 12:12 AM

I wouldn’t presume to question what was right or wrong about what these officers did or didn’t do. There was just so much time though. I’d really like to what was going through their minds for that hour.

hawkdriver on June 4, 2011 at 12:03 AM

Bing. I get frustrated with these guys too, sometimes. But I have been around police and fire guys my whole life, and I have seen and heard the stories of what the most unassuming cop or fireman will do to save innocents, and it is humbling.

I refuse to pile on with almost no facts, just because some liberal columnist wants to use a story to shame the city for “budget cuts”. And I know you understand what I’m talking about, hawk.

Jaibones on June 4, 2011 at 12:14 AM

12thMonkey on June 4, 2011 at 12:01 AM

Let me know if you want to have an honest discussion of the story, or just flail around. I’m not in a flailing mood tonight.

Jaibones on June 4, 2011 at 12:06 AM

LOL…

It is an honest discussion. I’m not sure I see a big distinction between first responders jumping into the water and rescuing a drunk or jumping in and rescuing a suicide. They’re putting their lives at risk in either case.

If we’ve decided not to have first responders attend to stupid people, we need to decide where this line is drawn.

12thMonkey on June 4, 2011 at 12:15 AM

I’m a member of a county emergency dive team and trained rescue diver/swimmer. It’s obvious that no one commenting here is trained in water rescue. You have no idea of the dangers and the protocols that have been developed as a result of the kind of ignorant, knee-jerk emotionalism on display here that has gotten a lot of people killed.
I don’t mind taking risks to save an innocent victim but I do object to having to take risks to recover the corpses of fools. You can’t save anyone if you’re dead.
This “victim” was a suicide who weighed 280 lbs and waded into 54 degree water. If an untrained and unequipped person buoyed only by emotion had tried to make him return to shore it’s almost certain they would have had to recover 2 corpses.
We have a mantra that we live by: “There is already one victim in the water. Don’t make us recover two bodies.” This was driven home a few months ago when we lost a firefighter who went into chest deep 50 degree water to save a young girl. We had to recover two bodies that day.
Even though he wasn’t trained in water rescue he knew the protocols and he let his emotions override his training. Now his wife and children have to survive without him.
Under the circumstances the responders in Ca did the right thing. What angers me is that the higher ups decided to abandon water rescue capability on the shores of SF bay. There are enough divers in that area to form a volunteer team if they don’t have funds for a professional team. (The team I’m on is a volunteer team)

single stack on June 4, 2011 at 12:15 AM

I have a dream. It’s not a big dream, it’s just a little dream. My dream – and I hope you don’t find this too crazy – is that I would like the people of this community to feel that if, God forbid, there were a fire, calling the fire department would actually be a wise thing to do. You can’t have people, if their houses are burning down, saying, “Whatever you do, don’t call the fire department!” That would be bad. – Steve Martin in Roxanne

Left Coast Right Mind on June 4, 2011 at 12:17 AM

I’m a member of a county emergency dive team and trained rescue diver/swimmer. It’s obvious that no one commenting here is trained in water rescue. You have no idea of the dangers and the protocols that have been developed as a result of the kind of ignorant, knee-jerk emotionalism on display here that has gotten a lot of people killed.
I don’t mind taking risks to save an innocent victim but I do object to having to take risks to recover the corpses of fools. You can’t save anyone if you’re dead.
This “victim” was a suicide who weighed 280 lbs and waded into 54 degree water. If an untrained and unequipped person buoyed only by emotion had tried to make him return to shore it’s almost certain they would have had to recover 2 corpses.
We have a mantra that we live by: “There is already one victim in the water. Don’t make us recover two bodies.” This was driven home a few months ago when we lost a firefighter who went into chest deep 50 degree water to save a young girl. We had to recover two bodies that day.
Even though he wasn’t trained in water rescue he knew the protocols and he let his emotions override his training. Now his wife and children have to survive without him.
Under the circumstances the responders in Ca did the right thing. What angers me is that the higher ups decided to abandon water rescue capability on the shores of SF bay. There are enough divers in that area to form a volunteer team if they don’t have funds for a professional team. (The team I’m on is a volunteer team)

single stack on June 4, 2011 at 12:15 AM

they themselves claim they could have saved him and decided not to…

equanimous on June 4, 2011 at 12:18 AM

It’s kinda why we have first responders for that. Unless we no longer need them?

Jesse on June 4, 2011 at 12:09 AM

Just remember, Jesse — water is hard. Bad things happen. Lifeguards make $150,000 a year for a reason (even though I don’t know what that reason is). And those guys in the picture are not lifeguards, are not Coast Guard, are not in a boat, and do not have water rescue equipment.

Is what I’m sayin’.

Jaibones on June 4, 2011 at 12:18 AM

single stack on June 4, 2011 at 12:15 AM

Amen.

Jaibones on June 4, 2011 at 12:19 AM

single stack on June 4, 2011 at 12:15 AM

It really wasn’t anyone’s job to go out and save this person other then the first responders. I think it’s what they get paid for? But eh, if it takes them an hour to suit up and feel comfortable going into 54 degree water, we might want to get better first responders.

Jesse on June 4, 2011 at 12:20 AM

Darwin + California = This

Ronnie on June 4, 2011 at 12:21 AM

single stack on June 4, 2011 at 12:15 AM

Lol

You do know how his body was finally recovered, right?

“A young woman finally swam out to get him when he began floating face down…”

Sounds pretty perilous.

Again, if the conditions were too difficult to attempt a rescue, then the conditions were too difficult.

They would be saying, “Sorry, we wanted to, but the conditions were too difficult.”

That’s not what they’re saying. They’re saying, “Sorry. We got policies, y’know.”

Completely different.

12thMonkey on June 4, 2011 at 12:21 AM

Jaibones on June 4, 2011 at 12:18 AM

Totally see where you are coming from Jaibones. My problem is, it shouldn’t have taken them an hour to get someone who could do it, if they can’t. Considering the water wasn’t deep, and that to them, suicide or not wasn’t an issue. I have to assume they just didn’t feel like doing it.

Jesse on June 4, 2011 at 12:23 AM

I’m not sure I see a big distinction between first responders jumping into the water and rescuing a drunk or jumping in and rescuing a suicide. They’re putting their lives at risk in either case.

12thMonkey on June 4, 2011 at 12:15 AM

single stack on June 4, 2011 at 12:15 AM

12thMonkey, meet single stack. His testimony carries a little more weight than mine.

Jaibones on June 4, 2011 at 12:25 AM

ust remember, Jesse — water is hard. Bad things happen. Lifeguards make $150,000 a year for a reason (even though I don’t know what that reason is). And those guys in the picture are not lifeguards, are not Coast Guard, are not in a boat, and do not have water rescue equipment.

Is what I’m sayin’.

Jaibones on June 4, 2011 at 12:18 AM

And yet, somehow, this one young lady managed to brave all of this and bring his dead body in all by herself.

How’d that happen, exactly?

12thMonkey on June 4, 2011 at 12:27 AM

12thMonkey on June 4, 2011 at 12:27 AM

Another problem in their story isn’t it?

Jesse on June 4, 2011 at 12:29 AM

single stack on June 4, 2011 at 12:15 AM

Did you watch this video?
Everything you said is all well and good. But this was not the story we watched on this video. Nobody said it was too dangerous to attempt. Nobody said he was too big to rescue, or that he weighed too much, or that the waters were too deep. It was about the policy that there would be no more water rescue. The policy wasn’t “no more water rescue if the man weighs too much, or the water is too rough!.. It was no more water rescue at all! And nobody even tried! They just sat there and watched! An untrained woman was able to swim in and drag his dead body to shore but all these rescue personal could o a thing to even attempt a rescue?

I also have a little training in crisis work! I have over 17 years in social services and 8 in mental health. Nearly 3 years working with crisis intervention and have had much training and experience with people ho are in depression and suicidal! This man’s life was worth saving! His life was at least worth the effort to try! He did not deserve to have rescue people sit on the beach with their freaking hands in their pockets watching him drown! They took the job, they accept the pay and they understand the risks! Risking their lives is what they are suppose to be paid to do! Not sit on the freaking beach and just stand and watch!

And last, in the end, the they didn’t come out and defend themselves by saying it was all to hard and too dangerous. They said “We were just following orders but now we’ll rethink our policy!”

JellyToast on June 4, 2011 at 12:30 AM

Cops and firefighters are government employee union hacks too. I know people want to put them on a pedestal and all and there are some brave ones but a large percentage are useless.

echosyst on June 4, 2011 at 12:31 AM

Look, we’re not talking about some suicide rescue in the middle of raging seas or some guy standing on the edge of Niagara.

One girl managed to drag his body back in.

They could have easily made an attempt to bring his dumb butt back in, and simply decided going against policy was bad form.

Don’t make excuses. It had nothing to do with the conditions or how dangerous it was or about him fighting or anything of the sort.

They didn’t want to break policy.

Let’s at least be honest about what happened here.

12thMonkey on June 4, 2011 at 12:33 AM

And yet, somehow, this one young lady managed to brave all of this and bring his dead body in all by herself.

How’d that happen, exactly?

Because he was dead. If she had grabbed him while he was alive he probably would have killed her.

You’re a perfect example of the ignorant, knee jerk emotionalism that gets people killed.

single stack on June 4, 2011 at 12:34 AM

Weaver assured me that the firefighters who were on the scene feel horrible about what happened. “Every one of our members who was on that scene wishes that the policy would have allowed them to do something at some point,” he explained.Any firefighter who broke with policy could have landed in a world of bureaucratic payback. That’s the problem. No government worker in America gets fired for following the rules.
As Russo put it, “We need an approach toward public service that is less rule-bound and more willing to take risk.”

Isn’t this what the Nazi’s said too after they killed 21 million human beings? Despicable.

CCRWM on June 4, 2011 at 12:35 AM

single stack on June 4, 2011 at 12:34 AM

And it’s your useless bureaucracies that got this person killed. Not sure why you don’t see it.

Jesse on June 4, 2011 at 12:36 AM

You’re a perfect example of the ignorant, knee jerk emotionalism that gets people killed.

single stack on June 4, 2011 at 12:34 AM

And you are a perfect example of the bureaucratic ‘can’t do’ attitude that in real life resulted in a corpse.

sharrukin on June 4, 2011 at 12:37 AM

If I had been on that beach I would have tried something! I don’t know what! I am not a great swimmer at all! But at least I would have tried! Gotten a rope and tied it around myself to something else, see how far I could walk into the water, try to throw him a rope. look for a boat, call for more help, find a helicopter, do something!
If they had tried they would have said “We tried everything we could think of! We tried tying ropes around ourselves but that didn’t work! We tried swimming out to him but the water was too rough! We called out to him to try to encourage him to swim back!” But they didn’t do a blasted thing! They just said “We couldn’t because of our policy! We had to follow orders!” They should all be fired! And who cares if the department is shorthanded! They already admit they won’t risk their lives to save another anyway!

JellyToast on June 4, 2011 at 12:39 AM

Another problem in their story isn’t it?

Jesse on June 4, 2011 at 12:29 AM

Well, yeah.

They’re just pulling excuses out of thin air.

I don’t want any first responder to die. I don’t think any first responder owes their life to their job.

If conditions exist which makes a rescue not possible, well, that’s sometimes how things work. And if someone decides to plunge off a bridge into some churning, watery abyss with 80 foot waves, I don’t expect a single first responder to die to save him.

But this was not a dangerous situation. This was someone with emotional problems who probably was worth at least some marginal attempt to save. If the rescuers go out, and he wades farther and dies, oh well, at least the attempt was made.

But to just stand on the shore and wave because of policy?

Nope. Can’t swallow that. Sorry.

12thMonkey on June 4, 2011 at 12:40 AM

Tired. But I’ll part with this one last observation. I was responsible in part for MEDEVAC units all over Iraq and then in Afghanistan. You have to be the bad guys a lot of times when these Type A folks wanted to launch, regardless of the circumstances. We’d let them launch to close the distance to the POI with instructions like loiter a safe distance away until we can determine that the shootings stopped before they tried to go in. To accomplish the movement in that golden hour. But we would maintain the final say in most all they did. So, anyway, the MED Officer in the TOC and the senior warrants that advised him/her always were the bad guys. So I understand what Jaibones is saying and I understand what single stack is saying. It’s a fine line we walk.

The only thing I know for sure, is that we wanted them to be gung ho to launch. As long as there was an authority to restrain them, we wanted them to have confidence that they were capable of most any rescue. Anything remotely to the alternative in spirit with these guys would be almost useless to us. Soldiers wanted to know that the MED would come get them. Soldiers wanted them to be amazing pilots.

hawkdriver on June 4, 2011 at 12:43 AM

12thMonkey on June 4, 2011 at 12:40 AM

I agree there. But these people know the risks of their jobs. We pay them to take these risks and thank God the majority of them actually do it. But more and more we are seeing them second guess themselves over bureaucratic red tape and that gets people dead. No I don’t want to see any of them dead either, but it is the profession they chose. Good posts by the way.

Jesse on June 4, 2011 at 12:43 AM

hawkdriver on June 4, 2011 at 12:43 AM

Maybe we should start using military MED teams instead as our go to responders. I would be so frigin ok with that!

Jesse on June 4, 2011 at 12:46 AM

Because he was dead. If she had grabbed him while he was alive he probably would have killed her.

single stack on June 4, 2011 at 12:34 AM

And you believe he would have killed her, why?

Was it because he fought off dozens of rescuers who tried to coax him back to shore?

Oh, wait, that’s not it.

12thMonkey on June 4, 2011 at 12:48 AM

Nobody said it was too dangerous to attempt. Nobody said he was too big to rescue, or that he weighed too much, or that the waters were too deep. It was about the policy that there would be no more water rescue.

You’re right. Neither did I. I tried to explain the reality of water rescue. I also said I think the policy is wrong.

I

also have a little training in crisis work! I have over 17 years in social services and 8 in mental health. Nearly 3 years working with crisis intervention and have had much training and experience with people ho are in depression and suicidal

How many drowning victims have you tried to rescue? How many times have you had to fight someone in the water (who wanted to be saved) to keep them from (unintentionally) killing you in a panic?
I have 3 saves, two of which were panicked. I know from hard experience what it’s like-and how terrifying it is.
My training officer weighs about 340 lbs ( I weigh about 180) and he does victim simulation, both as a victim wanting to be rescued and as a suicide. I hope I never have to try to rescue a suicide.

single stack on June 4, 2011 at 12:49 AM

hawkdriver on June 4, 2011 at 12:43 AM

Maybe we should start using military MED teams instead as our go to responders. I would be so frigin ok with that!

Jesse on June 4, 2011 at 12:46 AM

MEDEVAC units used to service the communities stateside. It was part of their mission when not deployed before the war started.

hawkdriver on June 4, 2011 at 12:51 AM

single stack on June 4, 2011 at 12:49 AM

The reason why none of this makes sense is simple. If it was so damn dangerous and these people so heavy and uncontrollable to rescue, then why now do they say they could’ve done something and the policy is being changed? All of a sudden these people are now rescuable?

Jesse on June 4, 2011 at 12:54 AM

agree there. But these people know the risks of their jobs. We pay them to take these risks

And you’re right, but I will draw the line on crazy conditions where the victims put themselves in the situation we’re asking the rescuers to rescue them from.

For instance, if you’re climbing a mountain and stupidly find yourself on some inaccessible peak clinging by the tips of your fingers, I’m not sure I expect the rescuers to throw themselves on God’s mercy to get you back. Maybe you should have been smarter.

But that’s nowhere close to what happened here.

What happened here are union cretins following their rules to the letter, no questions asked, dumb fat boy be damned.

12thMonkey on June 4, 2011 at 12:54 AM

And it’s your useless bureaucracies that got this person killed. Not sure why you don’t see it.

And you are a perfect example of the bureaucratic ‘can’t do’ attitude that in real life resulted in a corpse.

You don’t know what you’re talking about.

single stack on June 4, 2011 at 12:55 AM

Well I sure hope someone kept the guys supplied with hot coffee and doughnuts while they waited for the slob to finally croak! Probably even got to claim a couple hours of overtime pay while the plodded through the paperwork – sweeeeet!

Ogabe on June 4, 2011 at 12:55 AM

MEDEVAC units used to service the communities stateside. It was part of their mission when not deployed before the war started.

hawkdriver on June 4, 2011 at 12:51 AM

So what changed? Are we short because we have now more theaters of war then before? Or is it some policy that keeps us from using them?

Jesse on June 4, 2011 at 12:55 AM

All of a sudden these people are now rescuable?

Jesse on June 4, 2011 at 12:54 AM

Lol… awesome.

So, which is it? He could have been rescued, or not?

I guess if only the dumb bastard has tried to kill himself a month later, his life would have been worth something, and the conditions wouldn’t have been too dangerous.

If only he had waited for the policy to change!

12thMonkey on June 4, 2011 at 12:58 AM

And you’re right, but I will draw the line on crazy conditions where the victims put themselves in the situation we’re asking the rescuers to rescue them from.

For instance, if you’re climbing a mountain and stupidly find yourself on some inaccessible peak clinging by the tips of your fingers, I’m not sure I expect the rescuers to throw themselves on God’s mercy to get you back. Maybe you should have been smarter.

But that’s nowhere close to what happened here.

What happened here are union cretins following their rules to the letter, no questions asked, dumb fat boy be damned.

12thMonkey on June 4, 2011 at 12:54 AM

And you are right there. That shouldn’t happen. Here in Oregon, if you go off the beaten path and find yourself stranded and it’s known to be your fault, you have to pay the bill for your own rescue. I don’t see a problem with that. But they do at least try when it’s appropriate to do so.

Jesse on June 4, 2011 at 12:59 AM

12thMonkey on June 4, 2011 at 12:58 AM

Lol. That’s the problem with disasters, they happen at the worst times and never follow policy.

Jesse on June 4, 2011 at 1:01 AM

And it’s your useless bureaucracies that got this person killed. Not sure why you don’t see it.

And you are a perfect example of the bureaucratic ‘can’t do’ attitude that in real life resulted in a corpse.

You don’t know what you’re talking about.

single stack on June 4, 2011 at 12:55 AM

Apparently either does the fire chief:

“The department feels it was a deeply regrettable incident and will take steps immediately to make sure incident commanders have the discretion to make water rescue decisions based on the circumstances,” D’Orazi stated.

12thMonkey on June 4, 2011 at 1:01 AM

You don’t know what you’re talking about.

single stack on June 4, 2011 at 12:55 AM

It was blind bureaucracy that resulted in the first responders standing there doing nothing, watching the guy drown. Nothing else.

THEY SAID THEY WOULD HAVE DONE THE SAME THING IF IT WAS A SMALL CHILD.

“Well, if I was off duty, I would know what I would do, but I think you’re asking me my on-duty response, and I would have to stay within our policies and procedures because that’s what’s required by our department to do,” Alameda Fire Division Chief Ricci Zombeck said when asked by KGO TV ABC7 if he would enter the water to save a drowning child.

sharrukin on June 4, 2011 at 1:02 AM

I used to swim at that beach when I was stationed at NAS Alameda.

Hard to believe the guy drowned as the water isn’t really all that deep.

Most of the time you can simply wade out several hundred yards.

The Ugly American on June 4, 2011 at 1:04 AM

So what changed? Are we short because we have now more theaters of war then before? Or is it some policy that keeps us from using them?

Jesse on June 4, 2011 at 12:55 AM

MAST units stopped servicing civilian communities for both policy and deployments.

hawkdriver on June 4, 2011 at 1:05 AM

THEY SAID THEY WOULD HAVE DONE THE SAME THING IF IT WAS A SMALL CHILD.

“Well, if I was off duty, I would know what I would do, but I think you’re asking me my on-duty response, and I would have to stay within our policies and procedures because that’s what’s required by our department to do,” Alameda Fire Division Chief Ricci Zombeck said when asked by KGO TV ABC7 if he would enter the water to save a drowning child.

sharrukin on June 4, 2011 at 1:02 AM

But the child would have fought! Or maybe had some pistols in his shorts and starting firing!

Everyone would have died saving the child! See! It’s too dangerous!

12thMonkey on June 4, 2011 at 1:06 AM

I’m a member of a county emergency dive team and trained rescue diver/swimmer. It’s obvious that no one commenting here is trained in water rescue. You have no idea of the dangers and the protocols that have been developed as a result of the kind of ignorant, knee-jerk emotionalism on display here that has gotten a lot of people killed.

Look, I have not tried to question your credentials here. I do not care to even attempt that nor would I.
But “ignorant knee jerk emotionalism?” That’s what those of us who find this whole thing repulsive are guilty of? Ignorant knee jerk emotionalism?

How many drowning victims have you tried to rescue? How many times have you had to fight someone in the water (who wanted to be saved) to keep them from (unintentionally) killing you in a panic?
I have 3 saves, two of which were panicked. I know from hard experience what it’s like-and how terrifying it is.
My training officer weighs about 340 lbs ( I weigh about 180) and he does victim simulation, both as a victim wanting to be rescued and as a suicide. I hope I never have to try to rescue a suicide.

single stack on June 4, 2011 at 12:49 AM

Haven’t saved a single person that I know of. But I guess that means I have no moral right to question a bunch of rescue personnel who stand on the beach and watch a man drown because.. as they have stated. it was against policy to do water rescues. But of course, the conditions were so bad that it took an untrained women to jump in and drag the body to shore.

JellyToast on June 4, 2011 at 1:07 AM

hawkdriver on June 4, 2011 at 1:05 AM

Well that sucks. Would be good to have them back in my opinion.

Jesse on June 4, 2011 at 1:07 AM

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