We’d go, but we’ve got to follow procedure; I’d like to help, but I’m off duty

“I found it incredible that my neighborhood firefighters seemed perfectly willing to defer their most crucial responsibility: saving a person’s life. Struggling to contain my rising anger, I continued to implore crew members to forget procedure and help the fallen woman. Still, a few more critical minutes passed with no apparent response, until a man with a white Van Dyke beard ran into the station. ‘Her lips are blue,’ he announced, looking shaken. It didn’t take a doctor to figure out what this must mean: The unconscious woman was starved for oxygen.”

Posted February 9, 2001

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