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Old 06-01-2011, 05:06 PM
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Default ‘Handcuffed by policy,’ fire and police crews watch man drown

Please, tell me this isn't true. Have these people truly lost their humanity? I don't think I could live with myself if I didn't at least try.

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An apparently suicidal man waded into San Francisco Bay on Monday, stood up to his neck, and waited. As the man drowned, police, fire crews, and others watched idly from the shore.

Why? Officials blamed a departmental policy, stemming from budget cuts, that prevented them from jumping in to save him.

Fifty-year-old Raymond Zack spent nearly an hour in the water before drowning. A crowd of about 75 people, in addition to first responders, watched from the beach in Alameda across the bay from San Francisco as Zack inched farther and farther away, sometimes glancing back, a witness told the San Jose Mercury News. "The next thing he was floating face down."

A volunteer eventually pulled Zack's lifeless body from the Bay.

Mike D'Orazi of the Alameda Fire Department said that, due to 2009 budget cuts, his crews lacked the training and gear to enter the water. And a Coast Guard boat couldn't access the area because the water was too shallow.

"The incident yesterday was deeply regrettable," D'Orazi said Tuesday. "But I can also see it from our firefighters' perspective. They're standing there wanting to do something, but they are handcuffed by policy at that point."

Alameda Police Lt. Sean Lynch also suggested his men did the right thing. "He was engaged in a deliberate act of taking his own life," Lynch told the Mercury News. "We did not know whether he was violent, whether drugs were involved. It's not a situation of a typical rescue."

But at a City Council hearing Tuesday night, some locals expressed outrage that Zack was left to die. "This just strikes me as not just a problem with funding, but a problem with the culture of what's going on in our city, that no one would take the time and help this drowning man," said one resident, Adam Gillitt.

The city said it would spend up to $40,000 to certify 16 firefighters in land-based water rescues.

One witness to the event told a local news station that Zack was looking at people on the shore. "We expected to see at some point that there would be a concern for him," said another.
‘Handcuffed by policy,’ fire and police crews watch man drown - Yahoo! News
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Old 06-01-2011, 06:55 PM
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Default Re: ‘Handcuffed by policy,’ fire and police crews watch man drown

If the water was dangerous enough to kill Mr Zack, it was dangerous enough to kill a policeman or fireman.
He was trying to kill himself and he wasn't harming anybody else in the process. Why should they get involved?
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Old 06-01-2011, 07:24 PM
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Default Re: ‘Handcuffed by policy,’ fire and police crews watch man drown

A couple of things stand out as really odd to me. The guy was standing in neck-deep water, according to the link. And waiting- waiting for what? Seems strange. He spent an hour in the water according to the link- obviously, if he was in water that was shallow, was looking at people on the bank, and was there for an hour, there wasn't really an emergency going on that rescuers would need to intervene in. What he needed was more likely a shrink or a family member or friend who could reach out to him, but I'm having a little bit of a problem comparing this to a suicidal guy who jumps off the GG bridge. I can't help but think there's some factors left out of the story.
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Old 06-01-2011, 07:37 PM
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Default Re: ‘Handcuffed by policy,’ fire and police crews watch man drown

Speaking as a former rescue person....

I'm not very inclined to risk my life to save someone elses if they WANT to die.

Secondly, when you're going against policy, you have to consider: Is what I'm about to do worth losing my job over? Losing everything I own due to a lawsuit? Possibly going to jail?

Had this been an emergency victim, I would feel the same as you, GG. But not for a suicidal person. In my emergency training, we were told that if we questioned what we were about to do with regard to policy, training, or legality, that we should always err on the side of saving the person's life. (example: As an EMT, I was not 'allowed' to administer an EpiPen. But you can guarandamntee that if one of my guests or patients was in shock and I had EpiPen handy, it would be administered.)

In this case it would depend on the situation. Was the water dangerous? Was the man dangerous? How much of a risk would I be taking to try and "help" someone who wants to die? If it was an accidental emergency victim, my ass would have been in the water faster than stink on $hit - policy or no policy.
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Old 06-01-2011, 09:08 PM
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Default Re: ‘Handcuffed by policy,’ fire and police crews watch man drown

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Originally Posted by rivrrat View Post
Speaking as a former rescue person....

I'm not very inclined to risk my life to save someone elses if they WANT to die.

Secondly, when you're going against policy, you have to consider: Is what I'm about to do worth losing my job over? Losing everything I own due to a lawsuit? Possibly going to jail?

Had this been an emergency victim, I would feel the same as you, GG. But not for a suicidal person. In my emergency training, we were told that if we questioned what we were about to do with regard to policy, training, or legality, that we should always err on the side of saving the person's life. (example: As an EMT, I was not 'allowed' to administer an EpiPen. But you can guarandamntee that if one of my guests or patients was in shock and I had EpiPen handy, it would be administered.)

In this case it would depend on the situation. Was the water dangerous? Was the man dangerous? How much of a risk would I be taking to try and "help" someone who wants to die? If it was an accidental emergency victim, my ass would have been in the water faster than stink on $hit - policy or no policy.
In 1983, 2nd year running back for the KC Chiefs, Joe Delaney dove into the water to save 3 drowning kids. The thing is, Joe didn't know how to swim, and ended up drowning himself.

What a huge loss for the KC Chiefs and their fans (myself included). But what a wonderful example of the depth and beauty that humanity can reach. Joe Delaney is a greater inspiration and hero to the world than he ever could have become in his football career.

Everyone has their own values. But to stand by for an hour and watch someone slowly die is indefensible as a human being. These men were following procedure, so there is nothing that can legally be done. Not that it would need to be anyway. Let them live with the nightmares of what they could have done but didn't. That is punishment enough.
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Old 06-01-2011, 09:14 PM
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Default Re: ‘Handcuffed by policy,’ fire and police crews watch man drown

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Originally Posted by sunwestdog View Post
In 1983, 2nd year running back for the KC Chiefs, Joe Delaney dove into the water to save 3 drowning kids. The thing is, Joe didn't know how to swim, and ended up drowning himself.

What a huge loss for the KC Chiefs and their fans (myself included). But what a wonderful example of the depth and beauty that humanity can reach. Joe Delaney is a greater inspiration and hero to the world than he ever could have become in his football career.

Everyone has their own values. But to stand by for an hour and watch someone slowly die is indefensible as a human being. These men were following procedure, so there is nothing that can legally be done. Not that it would need to be anyway. Let them live with the nightmares of what they could have done but didn't. That is punishment enough.
Policy wouldn't have affected my actions. Risk would. As well as the 'victim'. In this case, the person WANTED to die. I would feel no remorse in letting that happen, especially if the risks were high.
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Old 06-01-2011, 09:16 PM
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Default Re: ‘Handcuffed by policy,’ fire and police crews watch man drown

Quote:
Originally Posted by rivrrat View Post
Speaking as a former rescue person....

I'm not very inclined to risk my life to save someone elses if they WANT to die.

Secondly, when you're going against policy, you have to consider: Is what I'm about to do worth losing my job over? Losing everything I own due to a lawsuit? Possibly going to jail?

Had this been an emergency victim, I would feel the same as you, GG. But not for a suicidal person. In my emergency training, we were told that if we questioned what we were about to do with regard to policy, training, or legality, that we should always err on the side of saving the person's life. (example: As an EMT, I was not 'allowed' to administer an EpiPen. But you can guarandamntee that if one of my guests or patients was in shock and I had EpiPen handy, it would be administered.)

In this case it would depend on the situation. Was the water dangerous? Was the man dangerous? How much of a risk would I be taking to try and "help" someone who wants to die? If it was an accidental emergency victim, my ass would have been in the water faster than stink on $hit - policy or no policy.
San Francisco Bay is full of big ass sharks. I would be damned if I would go in after my own mother if she went in the water.
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Old 06-01-2011, 09:24 PM
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Default Re: ‘Handcuffed by policy,’ fire and police crews watch man drown

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Originally Posted by rivrrat View Post
Policy wouldn't have affected my actions. Risk would. As well as the 'victim'. In this case, the person WANTED to die. I would feel no remorse in letting that happen, especially if the risks were high.
Wanted to die THAT DAY. Did his girlfriend cheat on him, so he had a few drinks and decided to end the pain. Tomorrow may be different. Everyone deserves a chance to take a breath and think before flying toward the clouds.

If you've had time to think it through and counsel with others, and you still want to go, I'll buy you the bullet. But it is incumbent upon every one of us to give another the opportunity to consider first their decision before pulling the trigger.
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Old 06-01-2011, 09:26 PM
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Default Re: ‘Handcuffed by policy,’ fire and police crews watch man drown

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Originally Posted by sunwestdog View Post
In 1983, 2nd year running back for the KC Chiefs, Joe Delaney dove into the water to save 3 drowning kids. The thing is, Joe didn't know how to swim, and ended up drowning himself.

What a huge loss for the KC Chiefs and their fans (myself included). But what a wonderful example of the depth and beauty that humanity can reach. Joe Delaney is a greater inspiration and hero to the world than he ever could have become in his football career.

Everyone has their own values. But to stand by for an hour and watch someone slowly die is indefensible as a human being. These men were following procedure, so there is nothing that can legally be done. Not that it would need to be anyway. Let them live with the nightmares of what they could have done but didn't. That is punishment enough.
Yeah, that sounds all great and stuff, but there is quite a difference between your story and the OP.
As far as anybody knows, the kids weren't trying to commit suicide, Mr Zack was.
In your story, 1 of the kids managed to get out of the water (without assistance from Mr Delaney) and survived. 2 of the kids died. Mr Delaney died. Had Mr Delaney done nothing, there would have been one less death that day.
Who knows, had somebody attempted to rescue Mr Zack (don't forget, Mr Zack was trying to kill himself), there may have been 2 deaths, not one.
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Old 06-01-2011, 09:40 PM
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Default Re: ‘Handcuffed by policy,’ fire and police crews watch man drown

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Originally Posted by sunwestdog View Post
Wanted to die THAT DAY. Did his girlfriend cheat on him, so he had a few drinks and decided to end the pain. Tomorrow may be different. Everyone deserves a chance to take a breath and think before flying toward the clouds.

If you've had time to think it through and counsel with others, and you still want to go, I'll buy you the bullet. But it is incumbent upon every one of us to give another the opportunity to consider first their decision before pulling the trigger.
No, it's not incumbent upon any of us to risk our lives to try and stop someone from doing what they want to do.
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