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a case study

What happens when you try to child-proof the world?

People die:

This was Walpole Park in Gosport, Hampshire, on an overcast lunchtime last March when no fewer than 25 members of the emergency services, including a press officer, descended on a 3½ft-deep model boating lake minutes after Simon Burgess, 41, fell into the water when he suffered a seizure. But as an inquest heard last week, he lay floating face-down for more than half an hour while firemen, police and paramedics watched and did nothing.

The reason? Even though they could all swim, the first fire crew to arrive hadn’t been ‘trained’ to enter water higher than ankle-deep. Instead they waited for ‘specialists’ to arrive to retrieve his body. They had decided Mr Burgess must surely be dead because he had been in the water for ten minutes. When a policeman decided to go in anyway, he was ordered not to. A paramedic was also told not to enter the water because he didn’t have the right ‘protective’ clothing and might be in breach of the Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992.

No, this story does not appear at The Onion, and no, they are not joking:

Our reconstruction shows that Mr Burgess could have been reached by firemen – who took five minutes to reach the scene – within seven minutes ofMrs Hughes’s 999 call, rather than the 37 minutes that it eventually took.

I am damned near speechless. Somewhere north of 13 firefighters, four paramedics, and various police officers literally stood around and watched a man drown to death in a gorramed three-foot-deep model boating pond, either because they convinced themselves he was already dead, or, worse, they convinced themselves that their regulations and rules prevented them from doing a damned thing. I would ask how those… people… who stood by the bank of the pond can live with themselves afterwards, but they are naught more than cogs in a slowly-grinding-down culture that has systematically, progressively destroyed the very notions of “individualism”, “self-determination”, and “self-reliance”. I suppose I should hold them up as shining examples of their society, rather than revile them as failed attempts at “human beings”.

Yes, it is entirely possible – if not outright likely – that Mr. Simon Burgess was dead before the first fireman or policeman made it on-scene, and it is thus possible/likely that no matter how quickly they moved, or what they did, the outcome of the situation would not have changed. But we will never know now, will we? All it might have taken to save an innocent man’s life would have been another man with enough gumption to piss on absurdly idiotic restrictions, misunderstood though they may have been, and realize that saving another person’s life is probably worth more than keeping his own paycheck.

Obviously, no such men stood on the banks of the Walpole Park pond that day. Obviously, no men at all stood on the shores of that water.

Is it any wonder why I and people like me are adamantly opposed to going down the same road as once-Great Britain when it comes to society, government, culture, and so forth? We are literally watching their country collapse under the self-imposed weight of their uncaring “social programs”, absurd legal system, intrusive Big Brother government, and devaluation of human life, yet there are those amongst us who are firmly convinced that if we try the same program but just execute it HARDER, everything will work out wonderfully.

No, it will not; it will just result in more dead Mr. Burgesses floating in more park ponds, and damned if I want that for my country.

(Courtesy of Say Uncle.)

9 comments to a case study

  • Matthew

    This is why my parents (dad is a public school teacher & mom was a teacher) homeschooled me and my sister. And this is also the same reason I am going to homeschool my kids. Because public crapnation education makes people mindless.

    But this strikes me as the same way I see permit holders who say on forums that they would never defend anyone who is not their family while out in public. Are they really that cold that if they saw someone getting a gun pointed at them they wouldn’t shoot the BG if they could safely? I don’t think the phrase, “I got your back” exists anymore in America.

  • B

    One would ask what happened that NONE of they bystanders, men or women, couldn’t have bothered to go in and get him either….BEFORE the police/paramedics/firemen arrived…

    There is something very wrong with the society in “once Great, Britain”.

    Wait for the professionals is a nice idea. But really, if he was in the water in a park for 10 minutes, then it was not just the professionals who failed him.

    The whole country must be full of losers.

  • Divemedic

    Maybe I can shed some light here. As a former firefighter, I can tell you that my employer had a written policy that “no one may enter the water under any circumstances, under penalty of termination.” All we were permitted to do was throw you a life ring attached to a rope and wait for the county dive team.
    I tried for years to establish a water rescue procedure, and I was told that equipping and training personnel was too expensive, and that most of the time it would just be a body recovery, anyway.
    There were a couple of us who did it anyway, and we were not fired because the rescue was successful, and in the news. Kind of a bad PR move to fire us for that. But you better believe that if anything had gone wrong, we would have been hung out to dry, and perhaps even criminally prosecuted for violating the policy. (If a rescuer ignores policy and an injury or death results, that rescuer can be charged with negligent homicide or another felony. That kind of takes the motivation out of things.)

  • the dude

    Divemedic made the point I was thinking. Sure, there’s the very real possibility that the Brits are now mindless, but I think it’s more a self-preservation thing. If someone did violate procedure, no matter how stupid the procedure, it would result in too much headache to be worth it. Like the old saying, no good deed goes unpunished.

  • There have been several cases like this over the last few years, and they all boil down to what Divemedic said. These people have been told over and over and over that if they DARE they’ll be fired. And there is a point where self-preservation kicks in, especially if they figured he was already dead anyway…..not saying its the RIGHT way for the emergency services people to handle it, but I’m not sure I blame them either.

  • Fortunately, our nation has not YET gone the way of the land where Great Britain once stood.

    My FD has a policy of utilizing available equipment, and not free-lancing. If you can get your captain or lieutenant to go along with it, go get ‘em. My PD has no official policy on water rescue, but everyone in my PD knows that I carry a length of good rope, for a reason.

    I didn’t get into this to watch people die without at least attempting to act.

  • @ Matthew: Honestly, I have a hard time drawing a parallel between a “defend that person who is under attack” scenario and a “save a person from a pond” event… In the former case, you may not necessarily be in possession of all the facts – who is actually the aggressor, who is actually the victim, whether or not the parties involved are criminals/plainclothed cops/etc., and so forth. On the other hand, a person laying face-down in a pool of water is pretty damned simple.

    But, yeah, part of this can be blamed on public education, part of this can be blamed on our overly litiginous society, and the rest of it… damned if I know.

    @ B: A fair point. If I see someone laying face-down in water thrashing around in a non-swimming fashion or – worse – laying still, my happy ass is in the water and digging their happy ass out (depending on depth, currents, etc. – I am not lifeguard trained). And, seriously, a goddamned 3-foot-deep toy boat pond? What the hell?

    @ Divemedic: Like I said, this is a failing in the overly litiginous society we find ourselves in, as awell as a failing of the people involved – given the choice between “my job” and “that person’s life”, I do not really find the choice all that difficult to make, especially when the job in question is to perform those kinds of acts when and where necessary.

    @ the dude: Think about what you just said – ‘too much of a headache’ is not worth potentially saving a person’s life?

    @ Ruth: Honestly, I do blame them. Their jobs that they are so very eager to protect are to “protect and serve”, in the traditional sense – by allowing that man to die in the pond, they failed at both, and destroyed the public’s faith in their profession and those who practice it.

    Of course, given the British society, I am not sure they will notice…

    @ Matt G: Well, thank you for restoring some of that faith here in America… I completely understand that some water rescues are pointless, and others honestly are beyond the capabilities of the persons at the scene (for instance, jumping in a raging river). However, this particular instance is about as “fail”-worthy as any can get.

  • Divemedic

    @ Linoge:

    Linoge: The thing is, as a rescuer, you are faced with this decision almost every day. There are so many rules that will get you terminated, you do not want to break those rules, if you are at all interested in staying in your career. Fire departments are very much a “good ol boy” network, and getting terminated from one fire department likely means never being hired by another.

    So performing the rescue of a person who you do not know, who will probably file a complaint or lawsuit against you, and who probably got himself into the situation in the first place, thereby ending your career, you begin to ask yourself” “Who will feed MY family when I am out of a job?”

    It is easy to say when you are sitting behind a computer keyboard, but not as easy when facing the loss of your family’s income. Firefighters as a rule don’t worry about personal danger, but what we do worry about is our families. I wouldn’t risk my job to save a person that I do not know. The way the system is set up, is that anyone who would doesn’t last long before getting fired.

  • Divemedic wrote:

    The way the system is set up, is that anyone who would doesn’t last long before getting fired.

    In case you missed my point, that is exactly the problem with the circumstances. Or, at least, one of many.

    And, yes, it is easy for me to say that I value human life over a person’s job, primarily because I do. Each to their own.