Juxtaposed events (below) are proof, self evidence, of the immoral and substantive failures of both our city management and pubic safety services on Memorial Day 2011. It is then nothing less than appropriate for the City of Alameda’s citizenry to demand practical changes in our city and particularly in our fire department. Given the series of extreme AFD failures in recent years, it’s appropriate to demand revolutionary change of the AFD. Why? To address the evident and endemic substandard systems in the city’s fire organizations. I cannot imagine that our firefighters and paramedics disagree here: the department’s marginal and minimum requirements to perform have been dumbed-down for far too long by the outdated, incomplete, substandard and probably obsolete, Alameda Fire Department’s protocols and procedures….they cannot outperform under the AFD management’s current general operating bulletins (GOBs) because the GOBs do not even begin to describe—-let alone support and cause—even contemporary levels of performance.
Fire Engineer/Paramedic Dave Manzeck; Contra Costa Fire Protection District
On April 11, 2010 a 9-1-1 caller reported a vehicle upside down in the Walnut Creek flood channel with victims trapped inside and other victims possibly floating downstream. The Incident Commander immediately called … additional units to positions along the canal; these units spotted two victims in the swift current. A California Highway Patrol helicopter and utility van arrived with two rescue swimmers. While the helicopter crew began setting up their winch operation, a victim went over a low head dam. Rescuers breached the fence and tossed several throw bags to the victim who was now caught in the boil line. The helicopter attempted to lower a rescue ring to the victim without success. The helicopter then lowered Fire Engineer/Paramedic Manzeck on a hoist to an area between the face of the dam and the boil line where he was able to reach the victim under water. He then pushed the victim downstream in order to get her out of the boil. The helicopter hoisted Fire Engineer/Paramedic Manzeck out of the water and re-lowered him just upstream of the victim who was now unconscious. He lifted the victim out of the water with one arm, dislocating his shoulder, and took her to shore. The 74-year-old victim was transported by ambulance to a local hospital. She eventually regained consciousness, and went home a few days later.
Firefighter Charles Hakopian, Long Beach Fire Department
On December 6, 2010 the Long Beach Fire Department responded to a two-story fire in North Long Beach. Upon arrival, the fire crew observed an upstairs apartment heavily engulfed in fire and smoke. Onlookers reported that a two-year-old boy was still inside. Firefighters Hakopian and Sorenson ran inside the burning building to the second floor and began an aggressive attack on the fire. Firefighter Hakopian was searching the premises when he unexpectedly fell through the floor. He caught himself with his arms and pulled himself out of the hole, avoiding a fall to the first floor. He continued his search while Firefighter Sorenson sought to seat the fire. Firefighter Hakopian found the limp body of the small child in a closet. The boy had succumbed to the effects of smoke inhalation and was in respiratory arrest. Firefighter Hakopian grabbed the child and made his way past the collapsed floor to waiting paramedics. The boy sustained second degree burns on his legs and was listed in critical condition. He has since recovered.
Corporal Shane Scott; Inyo County Sheriff’s Office
On August 9, 2010 Corporal Shane Scott witnessed a fiery collision of three vehicles that occurred on U.S. Highway 395, south of the City of Bishop. It involved a sport utility vehicle (SUV) and passenger van that were engulfed in flames, and a partially burning third vehicle from which a female driver escaped. Corporal Scott arrived on the scene and heard trapped victims screaming from the inside of the SUV, which was lying on its roof. He attempted to extinguish the flames with a fire extinguisher, and saw a passenger, whose legs were on fire, desperately struggling to crawl out of the SUV. Corporal Scott entered the rear of the vehicle and grabbed the passenger. The heat was so intense that the victim’s skin was peeling off, causing Corporal Scott to momentarily lose his grip. Corporal Scott then grasped the torso of the victim, pulled him from the burning vehicle and dragged him to a safe location. By this time, the SUV was fully engulfed in flames and the other passengers had perished. Corporal Scott then ran to the burning van and determined that further rescue attempts were not possible. In total, six people perished that day, three in the SUV and three in the van. The female victim in the car suffered serious burns, other survivors suffered major injuries.
Alameda’s Fire and Police Departments stood on the shore for 1.5 hours on May 31st and watched a man in shallow, calm water stand alone by himself looking back at the masses—of fire, police, and citizens standing on the shore—wondering why not one person was coming out to rescue him. AFD and APD stood there until he gave in and drowned. A despondent man’s mental and emotional condition exacerbated by public safety services….encouraged towards, not discouraged from, committing suicide. And not one effort to talk to him. Not one effort to grab him before he went under. Not one.
Manzek, Hakopian, and Scott out-performed despite the extraordinarily difficult conditions to save lives. Yesterday, they were awarded the Public Safety Officer Medal of Valor by Governor Brown. (source: http://gov.ca.gov/)
While on May 31, 2011, our public safety services couldn’t even perform in the face of just about zero difficulty in conditions and circumstances.
I’m just sayin’.