Advocates lifeguards for private beaches
Published 7:51 pm, Wednesday, August 4, 2010
To the Editor:
After reading the negative responses regarding the handling of the tragic drowning at Millstone Ridge's private beach, I feel compelled to write a note about the event.
These men and women of Water Witch Hose Company are primarily firefighters, with a few sidelines such as removing trapped motorists from cars involved in collisions.
It isn't a requirement they be expert swimmers and divers. How many of these men and women are capable of searching the lake bottom for a victim of drowning is not in my knowledge base.
Neither is it in the knowledge base of a recent writer to The Spectrum who did a blast job on Water Witch Hose.
Searching the bottom of a lake bed is not an easy job and I think you were fortunate two of your residents were capable swimmers enough to do it until they found the unfortunate victim.
Diving without Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus (SCUBA) is not easy. You have to be in pretty good physical condition and have a pretty good knowledge of staying underwater without doing damage to your lungs.
You have to remember firefighters don't go to emergency calls in their bathing suits. Most are in boots and turnout coats.
Some may be capable of doing diving in search for a person and some may not. Please don't criticize those that don't have those swimming skills. They are not required of the human race.
Did you actually expect them to strip naked in order to enter the water? Not many fire trucks are equipped with bathing suits.
Some fire departments have rescue diving teams but they have to be assembled and ready to dive in short order in order to save a life. It isn't always possible although we all wish it could be.
Please do not lose sight of the fact these men and women are volunteers freely giving their time to their neighbors and willing to enter burning buildings to attempt to save a life if someone is in the building.
They train regularly on their own time and are highly trained. They answer emergency calls at all hours of the day or night to help someone save their house and possessions. They do emergency response to automobile accidents and sometimes have to extricate a badly injured person from being trapped in a car.
Let me tell you this is not easy. They also have feelings. It seems they did everything properly at the scene of the very tragic drowning at Millstone.
No one there could tell the fire officers when this woman went under nor where she went under. The beach is a large area to cover.
One idea could help alleviate problems such as this: t the Millstone Association could provide a lifeguard on duty during swimming hours every day.
Of course, it would have cost but, if you care as much as you say you do about human life, maybe that is the way to go. Lifeguards are schooled in water rescue and capable of searching the water to recover someone.
Because no one saw the lady go under, you don't know how long she was down. With the 10 or so minutes it took for the fire department to arrive (it may have been less), it was a recovery act and not a rescue act.
Let's say I am not a member of Water Witch Hose Company and never have been. I am a charter member of Northville Volunteer Fire Department and also an 11-year member of the Gaylordsville Fire Department.
So I know a little about the subject of what a volunteer fire department is but not an expert on the subject.
Please rethink your assessment of what happened that day. It's tragic enough that someone lost her life but please don't try to assess a portion of the blame on a volunteer fire deparment.
Maybe a lifeguard would be in order.