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Personal Responsibility

2011-06-10 15:46:52.119385+00 by Dan Lyke 7 comments

Larry noted this $20 million lawsuit filed in drowning deaths. Two kids went out on a semi-frozen pond, fell through, their friends went out to rescue them, fell through too, then...

Neighbors called 911 and firefighters arrived a few minutes later. But the lawsuit alleges firefighters stood idly at the water's edge for nearly 45 minutes for a boat and other equipment before attempting to rescue the teens.

There was also a recent kerfluffle out here when a man walked into the bay to commit suicide and firefighters and police didn't rescue him.

It bothers me that we, culturally, are getting an expectation of rescue. That there's this sense of "someone should do something", even when that something could further endanger life and limb. This sense of entitlement is, I think, one of the down-sides of outsourcing our humanity to the state.

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comments in descending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2011-06-12 01:52:44.731122+00 by: Larry Burton

This happened a few miles from my home. The lawsuit is going to affect me one way or another. Even if the parents lose their suit it is going to cost my county to defend itself and that is my tax money. The other aspect is that they are also suing their HOA for not maintaining the pond in a safe and secure manner. My neighborhood has a 32 acre lake that I fish and canoe on. I can expect this to also affect the insurance rates for my HOA which is going to end up increasing my HOA fees and possibly limiting my access to the lake.

A lot of people seem to want to blame this on lawyers but the lawyers can't sue on their own, it takes a greedy plaintiff to start this. My heart goes out to the parents for their loss but this has nothing to do with their loss, they are only using their loss to rationalize their greed.

I have another friend who thinks this is justification for going to a "loser pay" system in our civil courts. I can't justify that because there are times when the preponderance of the evidence is 51%/49% in favor of the defendant and in those cases it seems to me there is a legitimate reason for both sides being in court and both sides paying their own legal fees.

#Comment Re: made: 2011-06-11 17:49:10.369284+00 by: meuon

I wasn't thinking of entering the freezing water without the right equipment, but the pond might have been something a rope or firehouse could have been stretched across. But, what I think I heard is that neither kid was above water when the firefighters arrived. "slipping below the surface moments before firefighters arrived". I'll side with the firemen.. Darwin for the win.

#Comment Re: made: 2011-06-11 17:00:13.163908+00 by: Dan Lyke

Did they feel confident that an additional person out on that surface, no matter how they were attached to rescuers on the shore, would have a reasonable chance of survival? Having been in water with ice on it, even in a drysuit with appropriate insulation underneath, the cold makes it hard to function. In my case, I rolled a kayak on a river that had ice on the edges. The reflexes kicked in and I was fine, but my head (which was protected by a wool hat underneath a helmet) hurt, and I was seeing stars. If that wasn't a largely reflexive reaction, if I'd had to think, that would have been a difficult maneuver.

Now imagine a firefighter who hasn't practiced extensively in water rescues, who's gear is more suited to protecting from heat, trying to lift the victim out of the water and on to the ice sheet, protected only by a makeshift rope.

I'm pretty gonzo hardcore and I'd think twice.

The last few first responder courses I've had (last year) have been targeted towards the sort of incident where there's the victim to rescuer ratio is greater than one, disaster response sort of stuff, but: secure the scene, triage all potential victims, then make the decision to rescue or begin aid, or not.

It's kinda like kidnapping: You've gotta treat the victim as dead. If they miraculously come back to life that's fantastic, but that's a side effect of securing the scene and corpse recovery.

#Comment Re: made: 2011-06-11 14:56:14.685178+00 by: meuon

JT is right, although I know he has personally stretched those rules to where it almost claimed his life as well. A rescuer in caving is often the older, larger, more experienced person, plus rescue equipment. I assume the same for a falling through the ice problem. They knew they would probable compound the rescue problem.

A favorite )^( sign: "Survival is a personal option"

But I do feel compelled to ask: Did they not have some rope? Enough fire hose to stretch across the pond?

#Comment Re: made: 2011-06-11 03:58:16.575747+00 by: andylyke

Relatedly - in their life saving courses the Red Cross stresses (or did when I took them) that if there's an original victim and a first rescuer both in distress, you go after the original first.

#Comment Re: made: 2011-06-10 22:42:45.988035+00 by: Dan Lyke

Yeah. Seems like quite a few of these self-entitled bozos seem to forget that having to pull two corpses out of the water is more of a tragedy than pulling one out.

And that, no, neither amateur nor professional rescuers operate under different laws of physics than victims.

#Comment Re: made: 2011-06-10 19:29:27.192505+00 by: JT

My dad made a good point when I was starting fresh as a policeman. Mind you, he was an instructor at the police academy I would soon be attending. He said that if there was a railroad car spewing smoke, and a person trapped in a car nearby, would you run up to rescue that person. Of course, I told him yes, being all gung-ho and ready to save the world. He told me it happened to a friend of his years ago, he ran up to save the lady, into a cloud of chlorine gas, and died on the scene. Later, another policeman showed up and called for proper equipment and the person who showed up with it also went in, the two of them were able to rescue the lady out of the car.

The only person who died that day was the policeman who was ill-equipped and ran in to save someone without proper planning. It seems making a second victim to be rescued is hardly a way to perform any kind of heroic action. I've been in my fair share of tight spots, some I was prepared for, others I wish I would have taken more time to assess the situation. Running out onto obviously thin ice to save people who were lighter than me, but had fallen in anyway is hardly a way to save anyone.