"He might be violent." "He weighs too much." "He's trying to kill himself anyway." "Policy says we musn't try."
Are any of these reasons to let a man die?
Firefighters and police claimed they were "handcuffed by policy" this week as they watched a man take over an hour to drown. Instead of going in after a person who was trying to take his life, they opted instead to hide behind rules and regulations. A passerby even had to pull the man out of the water after his body finally got close enough to the shore. In the aftermath, the 'what-ifs' and excuses seem garishly infantile in contrast to the fact that a person is now dead because of it.
True, it was not a young child swept away by the tide. I am sure it is easier to deflect responsibility when it is a grown man trying to end his own life. But the public location he chose, and the slow way in which he ended his life only convince me more that he was begging to be helped.
After the fact, agencies have vowed to dedicate funding to special types of rescue training so that an incident like this will not happen again. But I am unmoved. You cannot persuade me that lack of funding was responsible for this. In fact, I do not stop at blaming emergency response personel. I also blame every person that stood by and watched - stood by and did nothing until it was too late and then asked officials why they did not help. To me, every spectator who witnessed this macabre event unfold played a part in securing this man's fate.
I am disturbed to think that anyone could have stood by without even trying to go into the water. Without trying to get close enough to assess the situation. Without trying to do something - anything. I am even more disturbed to think anyone would have stayed to watch knowing that they would not be assisting.
Who knows... perhaps if I hurry I can catch a replay on You Tube.