It’s understandable why leaving your assigned post could cause you problems on your job. But what if it’s your duty to protect swimmers from drowning, and someone in need of help just happens to be outside your designated territory? One Florida lifeguard didn’t need to think twice, running from his area to save a swimmer and losing his job in the process.
According to Florida’s Sun Sentinel, the problem with the lifeguard’s dash to rescue a swimmer is because the company he works for is a private lifeguarding company, and the area where the swimmer was in trouble is one where people are told they are swimming at their own risk. Attempting to save someone outside that territory is a liability issue, said the company.
“We have liability issues and can’t go out of the protected area,” said a supervisor. “What he did was his own decision. He knew the company rules and did what he thought he needed to do.”
Indeed, the lifeguard told the paper he was not thinking about a company being sued.
“I ran out to do the job I was trained to do,” said the 21-year-old man. “I didn’t think about it at all.”
He says he was sitting at his post when someone rushed over to his stand and asked for help. He saw a man struggling in the water about 1,500 south of his post, after swimming in an “unprotected” stretch of beach.
“It was a long run, but someone needed my help. I wasn’t going to say no,” he said. Other witnesses had pulled the man out of the water by the time he arrived, and he and an off-duty nurse attended to him until paramedics arrived.
The lifeguard filed an incident report, and he was subsequently fired.
“They didn’t tell me in a bad way. It was more like they were sorry, but rules are rules,” the lifeguard said. “I couldn’t believe what was happening.”
After he was fired, many of his coworkers stood in solidarity and quit alongside the fired lifeguard to show their support for him. His story has made headlines, causing the company to change its tune. The lifeguard says he’s been offered his job back, but he doesn’t want it.
“It’s another chapter in my life closed and I am just going to continue to get my schooling finished and get on with my career,” he told CNN.
The head of the company where he worked said l he didn’t approve of the decision to fire the man.
“Clearly, he should not have been terminated for what had occurred,”he said. “I know that he has tried to do the right thing.”