Imponderable #7: Alameda California

26 Jul

July 26, 2011

Have we gotten to the point where bureaucracy values red tape over human lives? I think we hit that point long ago but here is stark proof.

Had two guys playing volleyball on the beach saw the man in the water and rushed in to save him we’d be applauding them as heroes, but paid rescuers could only stand on the beach and watch the man die. Why? Red tape.

How can these people live with themselves?

When asked by a reporter if he would go in the water to save a child, the Fire Department Chief answered “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.”

In other words, if he was off-duty sure, he’d rescue the baby. No problem! But once he goes on duty and assumes the responsibilities of a first responder, someone who’s very job is to save lives, he’d let the child drown.

This is the world that lawyers have given us.

I remind you that the suicidal man was standing in obviously gentle surf for an entire hour. The police and firemen watched for an hour, and it took an onlooker to retrieve the body.

And the Chief’s final word? “I think the sensibility would be probably that we’re going to evaluate our response protocols.”

There is no “sensibility” here. None at all.

How could police and fire fighters stand on a beach for an entire hour and watch a man die?

How could they suppress every human urge to save a life, a life that could have been saved with minimal danger to themselves?

The question is Imponderable

And disgusting.


12 Responses to “Imponderable #7: Alameda California”

  1. Daniel July 26, 2011 at 12:17 am #


    Bureaucratic bull – crap in America has gotten way out of hand.

    I can understand First Responders putting on rubber gloves before treating someone who’s bleeding out – It doesn’t take THAT long – to prevent possible HIV infection, but this is nothing more than solid 24 K gold stupidity with a bow of red tape….. 😦


    • bmj2k July 26, 2011 at 12:22 am #

      There was a story not long ago about firefighters that stood by and watched a house burn down since the owner had refused to pay the localtiy for their service. The house was unoccupied. Until I read this one thought that was the height of BS, but this one beats it by a mile. How can any of those people sleep at night? I understand- not agree with but understand- their side of the debate but man, how can anyone ignore every instinct and stand by, especially people whose job it is to recue people?


      • Daniel July 26, 2011 at 1:09 am #

        I haven’t a clue, but this goes LIGHT – YEARS beyond incompetence or simple negligence. I’ve heard of things like this happening overseas, & now the bureaucratic idiocy wave is hitting the U.S.A. w / a vengeance.


  2. Thomas Stazyk July 26, 2011 at 12:46 am #

    Wow, this is unreal.

    But it raises a completely separate imponderable question of whether if a person wants to kill themselves, does the state, or anyone, have a right or even responsibility to stop them? I don’t know the answer to that question but it is the underlying issue in the debate about seat belts, bike helmets, etc. I’m not sure this guy was too serious about killing himself if he was standing in neck deep water, but he probably could have walked back in if he wanted to. Is it possible the firemen did the right thing for the wrong reasons? That is equally imponderable if you ask me.


    • bmj2k July 26, 2011 at 1:25 am #

      Those are great questions that I can’t begin to answer. But in this specific case, who is to say that the man was competent to make that decision? However, I don’t think that comes into play in this case because the police and firemen exist to save lives, not make decisions on a case by case basis. They are mandated. You may be right about the outcome but I am still horrified.


      • Thomas Stazyk July 26, 2011 at 1:38 am #

        I’m with you. What makes it even worse is that they stood around doing nothing. They could have called a suicide hot line or something and found a volunteer to do their job for them.


  3. Mac of BIOnighT July 26, 2011 at 12:56 am #

    You know what I would write,so I’m not even going to…
    There’s no more hope for humanity.


  4. JRD Skinner July 26, 2011 at 10:05 am #

    Mind-numbingly ridiculous.


    • bmj2k July 26, 2011 at 10:42 am #

      Tomorrow’s Imponderable is no less ridiculous, but thankfully not as serious. But it did put my math skills to the test.


  5. The Hook July 28, 2011 at 11:24 am #

    Someone should strip thwese guys of their ranks – and humanity!
    Wait, someone already took their humanity.


    • Daniel July 28, 2011 at 5:11 pm #

      They ripped up their humanity cards already. They’re mindless worker – bees who just do the job for a crummy paycheck.
      But that’s still a poor excuse.

      I knew a man who wouldn’t dive in & save a drowning kid when ** I ** was a kid, all just because he couldn’t remove his freaking WATCH in time. The man was somewhat ” tetched ” in the head, but I didn’t think that should absolve him or give him a ” free pass “, even now, necessarily.


  6. Jim July 28, 2011 at 8:10 pm #

    Wow. It’ll be OK, they’re going to have a serious discussion about it – then maybe the fire”men” will be trained to go in the water (up to their necks).


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