When 41-year old Simon Burgess had an epileptic seizure and fell into a shallow pond of water in Gosport, Hampshire, the rescue workers who arrived promptly on the scene stood by and did nothing. Even though they could see Mr. Burgess’s body floating less than 20-feet from the bank, these bureaucratic wimps watched passively while the lifeless form of Mr. Burgess drifted in front of them.
Why would these modern-day Anglo-Saxon super heroes opt out of the rescue mode? Well, it seems that because the depth of the water measured anywhere from one to three feet, the firemen who arrived first on the scene were only allowed to wade into ankle-deep water. You see, they were trained in Level I water rescue and they needed to wait for the Level II rescuers who were permitted by the health and safety regulations to wade into water that might come up to their waist. And being very good little Baa-Baa British sheep, these highly paid employees of the English empire followed the prescribed bureaucratic rules to the letter.
Gillian Hughes, a bystander who saw Burgess fall into the pond and who made the emergency call that might have saved the poor guy’s life, was totally dumbfounded by the failure of the firemen to act.
The firemen arrived with the police and I said ‘he’s only been there five or ten minutes so if you hurry you might save him’. He just said “we’re not allowed” and I said ‘but that’s your job’.
I said ‘you’ve got a pole on your truck, use that’, but there was no explanation. Mr Burgess was only 20ft away, I thought they would get him straight away. I believe one of the police went in to get him but was told he was not allowed.
I said to one of the firemen ‘why don’t you go in’ and he said they couldn’t if the water was higher than ankle-deep. I said ‘you’re having a laugh’. He said “no, that’s health and safety”. Daily Mail
The regulations that mandate exactly how, when, and under what circumstances firemen can actually conduct a rescue are set by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). HSE is an independent British bureaucracy that is empowered to dictate and enforce workplace rules and regulations. And as the fate of Mr. Burgess demonstrates, this behemoth of a nanny-fanny bureaucracy is crippling the use of common sense and compassion.
But hopefully help is on the way. David Cameron has pledged to slay the red tape dragon of the HSE, that under the auspices of Tony Blair’s Labor Party, grew to monstrous proportions.
One of the coalition’s new year resolutions is this: kill off the health and safety culture for good. I want 2012 to go down in history not just as Olympics year or diamond jubilee year, but the year we banished a lot of this pointless time-wasting from the economy and British life once and for all. Guardian
Great news for British businesses. We can but pray that the safety silliness will also be banished forever from the fire and rescue organizations, those very professions that ironically are all about taking calculated risks in the interest of the general public. All too late for Simon Burgess but hopefully in time for some other poor dosey Brit.