There are times that I am actually a little ashamed to call myself a firefighter/paramedic. This last week there were a couple of those times.
The first incident was an occasion where the engine responded to a call just minutes before I got there for shift change. They responded to a critically ill patient experiencing shortness of breath. Because of the inexperience of the medic (the only medic on the crew) the patient ended up being transported to the ER with a firefighter doing chest compressions. I'm not going to get into the details here (I don't think it's the right venue for that type of venting) but I will say that more could have and should have been done. It's frustrating to me to see people claim the title of paramedic without taking the responsibility seriously.
The second incident was much worse. A neighboring department responded to the beach where a 57 year old male was attempting suicide by drowning in the bay. The victim waded out 50 yards to where the frigid water was up to chest. And there he stayed until he died, an hour later. Then, a 20 year old female civilian, waded out and brought in the body.
To be fair to the Fire department that responded they are no longer trained in water rescue. They called the Coast Guard for assistance. My issue is that when they discovered the the Coast Guard boat could not make it in to effect a rescue (something they should have known if they know their jurisdiction the way we know ours) and that the Coast Guard helicopter was on another emergency call and would be delayed why didn't they call the large FD next to them that has several rescue boats including IRBs which would have been perfect for this call. The neighboring FD could have had an IRB on scene within 25 minutes of the request. A full 35 minutes before the patient drowned.
I just think it's sad that a fire department sat idle while someone lost their life. We usually pride ourselves at thinking outside the box for solutions to problems. That seems not to have happened in this case.
I will admit that I was not there and I do not have the full story. I would love to hear what happened on this call from those that were there. Maybe there's more that we're missing. But for now, it just looks bad.
Here are a couple of the articles on the story: