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  1. #1
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    Default We are Clearly Not the Priority

    Change Ordered After Calif. Crew Watches Man Drown
    Alameda Chief Mike D'Orazi has ordered a new policy allowing commanders to attempt water rescues.
    By Angela Hill Oakland TribuneSan Jose Mercury News (California)

    Posted: Tue, 05/31/2011 - 03:01pm
    Updated: Tue, 05/31/2011 - 05:00pm
    Firehouse.com Editor's Note: Alameda Fire Chief Mike D'Orazi told KGO-TV Tuesday that he has ordered a new policy to be written that will allow commanders at the scene to attempt a water rescue.

    The previous policy reportedly forbade such attempts and was implemented after budget cuts forced the department to discontinue water rescue training.

    ALAMEDA, Calif. -- A 57-year-old man drowned Monday afternoon after walking fully clothed into the surf at an Alameda beach and wading in the chilly bay water for nearly an hour, authorities said.

    Witnesses said the Alameda man, whose name was not released pending notification of relatives, paced back and forth for several minutes, then walked out into the waves around 11:30 a.m. at a stretch of beach along Shoreline Drive near the Willow Street intersection, raising his arms in the air in chest-deep water for nearly an hour and eventually floating out to about 150 yards from the coast.

    Alameda police and fire were called, and subsequently notified the U.S. Coast Guard.

    Witnesses said Alameda police and fire crews responded to the scene quickly, but watched from the shore as the man bobbed in the water.

    According to a statement released by the police Monday evening, "(the) Alameda Fire Department does not currently have, and is not certified, in land-based water rescues. The city of Alameda primarily relies on the United States Coast Guard for these types of events."

    Coast Guard Petty Officer Erik Swanson said, "We launched a small boat from San Francisco and our helicopter, but the boat was unable to get to the man at that location because it was too shallow for the boat to get through. Our helicopter arrived and spotted the man in the water."

    Although the boat arrived in just 20 minutes, it took 65 minutes for the chopper to make it on scene because it was out on another mission and had to refuel, police said.

    From the helicopter, Coast Guard personnel also saw a woman -- described as an avid swimmer in her late 20s -- swim out when the man was about 50 yards away and pull him to shore. Emergency crews waiting on the beach said the man was unresponsive when he was brought in and was then taken to Alameda Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. The man had been in the water for about an hour, Swanson said.

    At least two bystanders, including a kite surfer, tried to get to the man. The woman who swam out and pulled the man to shore told witnesses she was a nurse trained in water rescue.

    "He was out there very far," said Alameda police Lt. Jill Ottaviano. "Conditions were very cold and choppy. It was a situation where you could see him bobbing up out of the water, then going under. Ultimately, he may have suffered from hypothermia. It was a very unfortunate situation."


    Clearly a bad decision.

    If budget cuts have eliminated water rescue training, then the fire department should no longer attempt water rescues.

    This is simply a matter of compromising firefighter safety to appease the public.

    Again, we are and always should be the priority. This is a bad call that may lead to firefighter fatalities. If we are not trained and/or not equipped to perform specialized rescues, it's not our obligation to make the attempt.
    Last edited by LaFireEducator; 05-31-2011 at 09:38 PM.
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    MembersZone Subscriber BULL321's Avatar
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    Here we go, AGAIN!
    Stay Safe
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    Quote Originally Posted by BULL321 View Post
    Here we go, AGAIN!
    So you beleive that we should be required to perform tasks that we are not provided training for?
    Train to fight the fires you fight.

  4. #4
    Let's talk fire trucks! BoxAlarm187's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LaFireEducator View Post
    Alameda Fire Chief Mike D'Orazi told KGO-TV Tuesday that he has ordered a new policy to be written that will allow commanders at the scene to attempt a water rescue.
    ...yawn....so now they're allowed to, should the IC feel it's safe. If not, they don't.

    Quote Originally Posted by LAFireEducator
    So you beleive that we should be required to perform tasks that we are not provided training for?
    They're not required to. See statement above.
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  5. #5
    MembersZone Subscriber BULL321's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LaFireEducator View Post
    So you beleive that we should be required to perform tasks that we are not provided training for?
    I believe that we should have the option to make the decision for ourselves on scene, than to be hamstrung by someone miles away sitting behind a desk.
    Stay Safe
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  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by BoxAlarm187 View Post
    ...yawn....so now they're allowed to, should the IC feel it's safe. If not, they don't.



    They're not required to. See statement above.
    Without training, should there even be that option?

    If the IC feels that he has to act, and a member gets killed attempting the rescue, is that fair to the member's family?
    Train to fight the fires you fight.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by BULL321 View Post
    I believe that we should have the option to make the decision for ourselves on scene, than to be hamstrung by someone miles away sitting behind a desk.
    I guess I feel that if wee are not trained to perform the operation, the option should not exist.

    Again, we are the priority and sending potentially untrained personnel in any situation - water, trench, cave, confined space, ice - for a rescue attempt is simply asking for a firefighter fatality.
    Train to fight the fires you fight.

  8. #8
    Let's talk fire trucks! BoxAlarm187's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LaFireEducator View Post
    Without training, should there even be that option?
    I have a feeling that there ARE members of the department that have received this training, even if they've done it on their own time. Now the IC can allow those personnel to effect a rescue should they elect to.

    Imagine that, members training on something that they might not statistically face.
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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by BoxAlarm187 View Post
    I have a feeling that there ARE members of the department that have received this training, even if they've done it on their own time. Now the IC can allow those personnel to effect a rescue should they elect to.

    Imagine that, members training on something that they might not statistically face.
    Being on the Bay, one would assume that water rescues are statistically likely.

    As far as the training, I would also suspect there are members that have it. How many would be the next question.
    Train to fight the fires you fight.

  10. #10
    55 Years & Still Rolling hwoods's Avatar
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    Post And............

    Somewhere above, I saw that the Water Rescue Training was Discontinued due to Budget Cuts...... In order to be discontinued, Water Rescue Training had to have already been in place. For how long, and for how many members is info that I don't have at this time, BUT, I feel quite safe in saying that there must be some members in the Department that have the required training. Therefor, they should be able to use their training when circumstances permit.........
    Last edited by hwoods; 05-31-2011 at 10:32 PM.
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    Alameda City is an island in the heart of the bay next to Oakland. The Editorial posted below was written in 2009 as they battled with the city over budget cuts.


    Letter to the Editor of the Alameda Sun: Beach safety focus

    Editor:

    I am an Alameda resident, father of three children, and a Alameda firefighter.

    I feel that it is my responsibility to respond to the article, "Be Safe in Water," printed in the Alameda Sun by the Fire Department administration, July 16. The message regarding "Beach Safety Tips" in reference to "lifeguards" can be confusing, and somewhat misleading, so I feel it incumbent on me to clarify certain facts regarding water rescue and safety.

    The article advises the reader to "swim near a lifeguard" and to "ask a lifeguard about the conditions before entering unfamiliar water." The public needs to be aware that there are no lifeguards on duty anywhere on Crown Beach's 2.5 mile stretch or elsewhere along the surrounding natural water areas of Alameda.

    In 1999, the City Council approved the implementation of a Surface Water Rescue Swimmer program to provide Alameda firefighters with the necessary skills and resources to provide water rescue response to all waterfront areas of Alameda's jurisdiction.

    This program was instituted due to the absence of lifeguards, the significant delays of water rescue response from the Coast Guard and Sheriff's Dive Teams, and the lack of certified water rescue training for Alameda firefighters.

    After the death of two adolescents below the Bay Farm Island Bridge a few years earlier, the Fire Department urged the City to support a safer, more efficient water rescue response capability, which the Fire Department has since offered, until now.

    Last year, the City Council approved a budget presented by former City Manager Debra Kurita and current Fire Chief Dave Kapler that has dismantled the Fire Department Surface Water Rescue capability.

    Due to the budget reductions, the necessary recertification of our water rescue swimmers for OSHA compliance was not funded.

    As of March 16, 2009, the Fire Department administration issued an operational status change, placing the surface water rescue swimmer program on hold. According to the status change, "all previously qualified Rescue Swimmers shall not enter the water for an active incident until further notice."

    What does all of this mean to a swimmer in distress? It means that firefighters may not swim to or use the rescue boat and rescue boards to approach a distressed swimmer in the water.

    Firefighters are permitted to toss a 75-foot water rescue rope to the victim, provided the victim is within 75 feet of the shore, to effect a rescue. The Fire Department Incident Commander will request that the County Dispatcher contact Coast Guard for assistance.

    So, in the absence of lifeguards, what do I recommend for a "safe and smart" time at the beach?

    Don't enter the water with more than one non-proficient swimmer at a time. Having three children of my own, it's very easy to lose track of one while supervising the others. Keep your eyes on and stay close to the non-proficient swimmer at all times. Even in shallow water, maintain a 1:1 ratio. The waves, swells and tides can be challenging for young ones and it only takes a split-second for tragedy to occur.

    The person in question that drowned on Memorial day was obviously disturbed and not a swimmer in distress.
    Last edited by babcusar5; 05-31-2011 at 10:35 PM.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by babcusar5 View Post
    Last year, the City Council approved a budget presented by former City Manager Debra Kurita and current Fire Chief Dave Kapler that has dismantled the Fire Department Surface Water Rescue capability.

    Due to the budget reductions, the necessary recertification of our water rescue swimmers for OSHA compliance was not funded.

    As of March 16, 2009, the Fire Department administration issued an operational status change, placing the surface water rescue swimmer program on hold. According to the status change, "all previously qualified Rescue Swimmers shall not enter the water for an active incident until further notice."

    What does all of this mean to a swimmer in distress? It means that firefighters may not swim to or use the rescue boat and rescue boards to approach a distressed swimmer in the water.
    Wow, that's pretty damning... to the politicians!

    Damn shame that it takes a death to reverse a flawed public policy. I mean, really... how much did that training *really* cost?

    Kudos to the brother who wrote the letter to the editor back in 2009. It really exposes the politicians who tried to skimp on the wrong thing.
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    Quote Originally Posted by LaFireEducator View Post
    [B]Change Ordered After Calif. Crew Watches Man Drown
    You just love to stir the pot, don't you?

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    Quote Originally Posted by firepundit View Post
    You just love to stir the pot, don't you?
    If somebody else had posted the story, would they have been stirring the pot, too?
    Opinions my own. Standard disclaimers apply.

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    Quote Originally Posted by firepundit View Post
    You just love to stir the pot, don't you?
    It's a legitimate debate of our safety v. public safety in a time when our resources are being cut back.

    The question of "Are we as firefighters responsible for taking actions in situations we have not been trained to perform in?" is a legitimate question in these times when in many departments training budgets are being cut back.

    The same questions would apply if a department rolled up on an ice rescue, confined space rescue, trench rescue or any other specialized rescue situation without the right training or equipment.

    What are our obligations? Do we have a duty to act if we are not trained or equipped to act? Is is fair to the firefighter's families to expect them to act without training or equipment? What is the department's liability if the member's don't act even if they are not trained or equipped for the situation? Should we act?

    As budgets are cut even more and training budgets shrink further, these are all valid questions and questions that need to be discussed.
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  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by LaFireEducator View Post
    It's a legitimate debate of our safety v. public safety in a time when our resources are being cut back.

    The question of "Are we as firefighters responsible for taking actions in situations we have not been trained to perform in?" is a legitimate question in these times when in many departments training budgets are being cut back....
    True, it's a legitimate question. That question however, has very little to do with the article you posted and commented on. In fact, you commented negatively on it....without knowing the details of it.

    That puts you, again, in a bad light.


    On a side note...my Department does not do any water rescue training, even though we are located on the coast. I do have a bunch of members that work as life guards. I would have no problem with those members attempting a surface rescue, even though the Department has 0 training in it.
    "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bones42 View Post
    On a side note...my Department does not do any water rescue training, even though we are located on the coast. I do have a bunch of members that work as life guards. I would have no problem with those members attempting a surface rescue, even though the Department has 0 training in it.
    I think the issue is that when the water rescue team was dismantled in 2009 the FD issued a policy that forbade members from entering the water:
    As of March 16, 2009, the Fire Department administration issued an operational status change, placing the surface water rescue swimmer program on hold. According to the status change, "all previously qualified Rescue Swimmers shall not enter the water for an active incident until further notice."
    The on scene IC didn't have any options available that didn't violate policy. At least now the IC can assess the conditions on scene and can attempt a rescue if within their capabilities.
    Alameda Fire Chief Mike D'Orazi told KGO-TV Tuesday that he has ordered a new policy to be written that will allow commanders at the scene to attempt a water rescue.
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    Quote Originally Posted by LaFireEducator View Post
    Clearly a bad decision.

    If budget cuts have eliminated water rescue training, then the fire department should no longer attempt water rescues.

    This is simply a matter of compromising firefighter safety to appease the public.

    Again, we are and always should be the priority. This is a bad call that may lead to firefighter fatalities. If we are not trained and/or not equipped to perform specialized rescues, it's not our obligation to make the attempt.
    I bet that 20 year old woman who went and got him would do more than you to get a kid out of a burning car, too, you coward.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LaFireEducator View Post
    [B]Clearly a bad decision.

    If budget cuts have eliminated water rescue training, then the fire department should no longer attempt water rescues.

    This is simply a matter of compromising firefighter safety to appease the public.

    Again, we are and always should be the priority. This is a bad call that may lead to firefighter fatalities. If we are not trained and/or not equipped to perform specialized rescues, it's not our obligation to make the attempt.
    You know, sometimes I used to feel bad about how you would get mobbed on here. But you sir are clearly a ****ing idiot. Please, do the fire service a favor and get the hell out. I plan on staying clear of your area of Lousiana for fear of not being rescued per the off chance something should go terribly wrong for me. YOU SUCK!!!!!

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by ThNozzleman View Post
    I bet that 20 year old woman who went and got him would do more than you to get a kid out of a burning car, too, you coward.
    You know I bet he really hates that he made that statement about having no problem standing by and watch a kid die in a car fire, when others with no training tried and did save the kid and mother, at times like this.
    Stay Safe
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