This question comes about due to an article a river buddy of mine posted on Facebook.
Colorado rafting guide arrested after girl's rescue - The Denver Post
This is a dilemma encountered sometimes by rescue personnel. I worked as a river guide for nearly 10 years full time. Worked Ski Patrol for a number of years, and also worked on an ambulance as an EMT. I've been trained and re-trained in multiple kinds of rescue situations.Clear Creek sheriff's deputies arrested a rafting guide for swimming to a stranded young rafter who had tumbled from his boat on Clear Creek.
Ryan Daniel Snodgrass, a 28-year- old guide with Arkansas Valley Adventures rafting company, was charged after the Thursday incident with "obstructing government operations," Clear Creek Sheriff Don Krueger said.
"He was told not to go in the water, and he jumped in and swam over to the victim and jeopardized the rescue operation," said Krueger, noting that his office was deciding whether to file similar charges against another guide at the scene Thursday on Clear Creek just downstream from Kermitts Roadhouse on U.S. 6.
Duke Bradford, owner of Arkansas Valley Adventures, said Snodgrass did the right thing by contacting the 13-year-old Texas girl immediately and not waiting for the county's volunteer search-and-rescue team to assemble ropes, rafts and personnel.
"When you have someone in sight who has taken a long swim, you need to make contact immediately," said Bradford, a 15-year rafting guide and ski patroller from Summit County.
"This is just silly. Ryan Snod grass acted entirely appropriately. These guys came to the scene late, and there was a rescue in progress. They came in and took over an existing rescue. To leave a patient on the side of a river while you get your gear out of the car and set up a rescue system you read about in a book is simply not good policy."
In all of those areas, there are "rules". Set in place mostly to protect one's employer, sometimes the rescuer, and rarely the victim. Sometimes those rules conflict with one another, though. And sometimes they conflict with the reality of a dire situation, and conflict with just plain ole common sense, experience, or compassion.
I could relay to you story after story related to these types of things, some experienced personally, some witnessed, and some told to me by others.
But primarily what I'm getting at is that if a rescue is successful, should someone have charges brought against them for not participating in the rescue in the manner in which a lesser trained individual FEELS they should have?
What I'm getting at is that the girl was rescued. Safely. The guide in this story obviously did not impede anything, even though he was told by (lesser experienced) rescuers not to go out to the victim. Shouldn't HIS experience and training have some bearing on this? If it was just an average person on the sideline who did it, I might agree that they should be reprimanded (though not charged) since most people are not trained to swim in whitewater, not trained to rescue people from life threatening situations, and not trained to deal with people under duress and in a near panicked state. And people not trained in these things are more likely to become a second victim.
But in this case we're talking about a trained individual. Someone who deals with this daily. Someone who is able to assess the situation and know whether they can make the swim or not, safely. Someone who is able to assess the mental/emotional state of the victim - which is highly important in rescue operations because if someone gets to the point that they are unresponsive, the situation only gets more dire.
As my EMT instructor told us when he relayed to us what we were "legally" allowed to do with our certification and what reality might actually call for: Err on the side of saving the person's life.
Should someone be charged if they help someone?