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Note: I'm reposting this from yesterday 'cus it seems like an important story to me, and because I forgot one vital option in the poll which I've added today

Hey, remember the guy in Tennessee who watched his house burn down, while firefighters stood and did nothing because he had refused to pay a $75 fee?

Well, welcome to the next logical step in the Republican vision of America:

Police and firemen in Alameda, California watched a man drown on Monday after realizing they did not have proper certifications for water rescue, leaving them open to possible lawsuits if they attempted to save him.

City officials reportedly blamed the incident on budget cuts and said they would have a discussion about why Alameda, an island city, does not have proper authorization to rescue people from the waters surrounding it.

Thanks to TheCrank in yesterdays' comments for providing a link to his/her own diary and a fuller, original source for the story:

The previous policy was implemented after budget cuts forced the department to discontinue water rescue training and stop maintaining wetsuits and other rescue gear, D'Orazi said Tuesday.

"The incident yesterday was deeply regrettable," he said. "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."

Now, here's the thing: Republicans could certainly use this incident to argue just as convincingly that the problem is "overregulation" and "trial lawyers" since the reason for the regulations preventing the cops/firemen from saving the guy are due to the fear of being sued.

On the other hand, of course, the response from the department is that if the fire/police dept. had better funding, they would be able to get their people certified. And after all, as the story notes, this is an island community, fer Chrissakes.

The pathetic thing is that both arguments are quite valid--and let's not forget that there were apparently 75 other people who weren't on the city payroll who might have tried to help...and none of them did either.

Well, except for the one woman who volunteered to fish the body out of the water.

I dunno...years ago, I was a movie theater manager at a large theater chain. Every year the management had to attend an all-day legal seminar, where the Suits from the Home Office would send out corporate attorneys to go over how to handle various situations from the Company's Perspective--you know; what to do if a customer has a slip n' fall, if the place gets robbed, if the building catches on fire, dealing with sexual harassment issues and so on...from a legal perspective. Basically, how to make sure the company doesn't get sued, or at least make sure that the company is in the clear if it does get sued.

At one point, they actually used the following example to make it clear how serious they were: We were told that if we personally witnessed a guy raping a woman in front of us, we weren't supposed to get involved; we were supposed to call the security guard, who in turn was supposed to call the police, and then we were both supposed to fill out an incident report and then, presumably, just stand around doing nothing until the cops showed up.

While the woman continued to be raped in front of us.

My response was pretty simple: Fuck that (OK, I was a bit more diplomatic about it; I didn't want to get canned on the spot). I did understand their point, but I also noted that in such a scenario, the right thing to do--assuming you even wanted to waste 2 seconds on the companies' bottom line--was to officially quit on the spot, with witnesses; remove your nametag or whatever; and then proceed to pull the rapist off of the woman and subdue him.

Thankfully, I wasn't fired (although I did quit the company later anyway, and they proceeded to disappear in the Michigan region), but I sure pissed off my boss and the district manager going forward.

I realize that this is a completely different situation, but that incident came rushing back to me when I read about it.

On the other hand, dKos member Grover, who commented on my original posting of this diary yesterday (and who suggested the addition of "The Voters" to the poll) made some valid points about the danger of the situation:

The waters that surround Alameda are cold -- the Pacific Ocean/SF Bay surface water temp is around 50-60 degrees in the middle of summer (and we're not there yet. Air temps are only 50-60 now).   And that means water rescues in Alameda are dangerous.

First responders can't simply dive in without appropriate training and equipment and hope things turn out ok. I'm a really strong swimmer, but I would hesitate to dive in knowing that I could easily make the situation worse -- a panicking victim could drag me down and I would become someone else's problem.

A child? Sure. A small woman? Possibly. A larger male, which this person appears to have been, based in the photos?  I really don't know what I'd do. I'd probably look around for some equipment to bring out to him, a kayak, PFD, floatation ring, etc. But if that stuff were available on the beach, I bet we'd be having a different conversation right now.

In any event, no matter how you look at it, this is a horrifying story.

I can feel it coming in the air tonight, Oh Lord
I've been waiting for this moment, all my life, Oh Lord
Can you feel it coming in the air tonight, Oh Lord, Oh Lord

Well, if you told me you were drowning
I would not lend a hand
I've seen your face before my friend
But I don't know if you know who I am
Well, I was there and I saw what you did
I saw it with my own two eyes
So you can wipe off the grin, I know where you've been
It's all been a pack of lies

And I can feel it coming in the air tonight, Oh Lord
I've been waiting for this moment for all my life, Oh Lord
I can feel it coming in the air tonight, Oh Lord
And I've been waiting for this moment all my life, Oh Lord, Oh Lord

Well I remember, I remember don't worry
How could I ever forget, it's the first time, the last time we ever met
But I know the reason why you keep your silence up, no you don't fool me
The hurt doesn't show; but the pain still grows
It's no stranger to you or me

And I can feel it coming in the air tonight, Oh Lord...


Who's to blame here?

11%4 votes
5%2 votes
0%0 votes
5%2 votes
17%6 votes
17%6 votes
29%10 votes
11%4 votes
0%0 votes

| 34 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  Critical info missing... (5+ / 0-)

    Budget cuts and a litigious (sp?) society notwithstanding, the man was suicidal and put himself into HYPOTHERMIC water in order to commit suicide (he walked into it until he was neck-deep). It's also my impression that it was not that they could not save him in a vacuum, but that they needed special training/equipment for a water rescue if the temperatures were that risky.

    Seems like not such a huge story if those details are included...

  •  Appalling account. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    The frog (us) in the water is getting cooked.
    Fox Noise will be all over this story scaring their viewers.
    Just think of the lawsuits that will ensue when frustrated bystanders... without training or equipment... endanger/drown themselves trying to save people when police and fire stand idly by.
    Fucking voyeurs.

    "Children who are victims of failed personal responsibility are not my problem, nor are they the problem for our government." Tim Pawlenty April 2001

    by cosette on Thu Jun 02, 2011 at 06:02:32 AM PDT

  •  I'm not sure this is the best case... (0+ / 0-) base an argument on.

    As you said, there are many ways to spin this.  I'm sure there are a lot more clear cut examples of the costs of budget cutting (house fires, for example) that would make your argument stronger.

    This case is just too easy to attack (with some legitimacy, I might add) with the "over litigious society/burdensome government regulations" meme.

    "If you think you can or you think you can't, you are right"

    by White House Shill on Thu Jun 02, 2011 at 06:07:28 AM PDT

    •  PS (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jpmassar, the mom in the middle

      Every fireman I know would have jumped in the water and tried to save the guy, policy be damned.  You don't become a fireman to watch people drown.

      "If you think you can or you think you can't, you are right"

      by White House Shill on Thu Jun 02, 2011 at 06:09:31 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Firefighters, like all rescue workers... (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Brainwrap, nextstep, esquimaux

        ...know that there's a point at which the chance of successful rescue is eclipsed significantly enough by the chance of your dying or becoming incapacitated in the process (in which case you're no help to the victim, and in fact would require more people to risk their lives to save both of you) that an attempt to rescue becomes inadvisable.

        First responders are more than aware that there's a point at which a rescue attempt, particularly without proper equipment and training, is only likely to make the situation worse if it changes the situation at all.

        I'd wager that factored into these firefighters' choice not to intervene here.

  •  This pisses me off more than anything (0+ / 0-)

    No Mf got off their butts to help. But that is this world isn't it. I got mine and I will watch you drown and do jack crap about it. Oh but they can go out to get his body. Not a single human being went out to at least try to talk the man "down". I can understand people thinking he may try to take them with him if they got too close, but at least try to talk him down.  Bring something to bop him on the head and drag is  knocked out ass out. SOMETHING.

    •  I'm not a psychologist/sociologist, but I think... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      the mom in the middle

      ...this falls into the "GroupThink"/mob mentality area. That is, my suspicion is that there were probably a few people in the crowd who would have been more likely to try and do something if they had been the only ones around instead of when surrounded by 70+ other people.

      The way the reasoning goes is that everyone is waiting for someone else to do something. It's the same reason why I was told, during CPR training, that one of the first steps if there's others around is to specifically tell one specific person to call 911. Don't just say "Someone call 911!"; you're supposed to pick out a specific individual and order them to do so personally.

      If you just shout a general "someone call 911!" then the odds are that no one will, because everyone thinks "someone" refers to someone else.

  •  Oh and this is not (0+ / 0-)

    freaking the far north, sorry I swam in 60 degree water when I was in Florida during the winter. Our pool stayed there in the winter. Granted I prefer bathwater temps of our pool, but I still swam at that temp.

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