I’m sure most of my readers have been in a pool before. I’d go a touch farther and say that more have been in a lake or river. A good bit even took a few swims in the ocean.
Does that make you a rescue swimmer?
I went skiing when I was a kid and in college. Got pretty good at it too. I can now serve as Ski Patrol.
As a Scout I learned how to tie knots and repel. I am now a high angle rescuer.
Let’s change the headline:
“Ambulance crew stand nearby while man dies in fire.” They don’t have the equipment or training to deal with the situation, let’s blame THEM.
Or how about:
“TSA agents do nothing as armed gang robs bank near airport.” Again, no training, no equipment.
So why are so many so fast to jump in and say they would have gotten in the water and made the rescue in Alameda? Likely because most of them have never been in the waters this event occured in. This kind of event happens more often than you think.
What was the tide? Ebb? Slack? Flood? Why does it matter? What has the weather been like the last few days? Why does that matter?
A bay rescue is not a simple jump in the water or into a swift water arena where your victim is always travelling in the same direction. Depending on the distance from shore, the tides could create eddys which move water at high speed in different directions, meaning you could enter the water and be 20 yards south of your victim before you came up for air the first time. Oh, and NEVER take your eyes off the victim, even when swimming. Ever tried that?
Now, flotation. Does your rig carry a Peterson Flotation device? Something you can float to the victim, staying clear of their fight to stay afloat? No? OK then.
Now, cold. Your victim is experiencing hypothermia, how long until you feel the effects and become a victim as well? Wetsuit, boots? No, OK then.
“But Justin, a bystander just swam out and got him just fine.” Shall I link to countless stories of people going back into burning buildings to get something against the advice of firefighters on the scene?
Or should I begin linking to all the stories of would be rescuers drowning because they were unfamiliar with the waters they found themselves in and had no idea what a water based rescue requires or entails?
My point is this:
Had I been dispatched to this call without my swim gear, I would NOT have entered the water. Period.
Keep in mind folks that there are no swimmers on the Coast Guard boats, only hooks and nets. Only the helicopter can deploy a swimmer. Them or the SFFD. And now it looks like Alameda as well. How many more people will die before public safety budget cuts are exposed as actually killing people?