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Trust me, this is good news

March 19, 2012
Talca, Chile

Here’s the scene. It was an overcast day in southern England last March. That is to say, a normal day in southern England.

Attempting to retrieve something that had blown into the water, 41-year old Simon Burgess slipped and fell into a 3 1/2 foot-deep pond. He then suffered a seizure. His body, lying motionless and face down in the water, was spotted at 12:15pm by a witness who immediately called 999 emergency services (like 911).

Within five minutes, emergency crews began arriving. Then more. Then more. 36-minutes after the initial phone call, no fewer than 25 emergency workers were at the scene. They brought out a state of the art emergency medical tent, resuscitation equipment, several fire engines, ambulances, and specialty dive gear.

article 2106423 11E8F0D4000005DC 509 964x450 Trust me, this is good news

For more than thirty minutes, emergency crews set up a complex operations center. Fire fighters positioned their trucks. Police officers cordoned off the area for crowd control. Water Support Unit officers donned protective gear and checked the pond for underwater hazards.

Yet with all of this commotion, nobody bothered to fetch Mr. Burgess. For 36-minutes, he floated in the center of the pond, face down, while dozens of first responders scurried about with their ‘make work’ projects.

Why? Because they hadn’t been ‘trained and certified’ by their various government agencies to enter water that was more than ankle deep. According to the UK’s Daily Mail,

“When a policeman decided to go in anyway, he was ordered not to. A paramedic was also told not to enter the water because he didn’t have the right ‚”protective” clothing and might be in breach of the Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992.”

And so, the emergency crews stood by waiting until a specialty team arrived, donned protective gear, and waded into the waist-deep water (at maximum depth) to retrieve Mr. Burgess. Needless to say, doctors formally pronounced him dead by the time his body arrived to the hospital, roughly 90-minutes after he fell in the lake.

Following public outcry over how Britain’s impotent bureaucracy could manage to cost a man his life, the government held a formal investigation into the matter a few weeks ago. As expected, public service workers and politicians closed ranks, defending their decisions on the ground and claiming that they were only ‘doing their jobs’ and following the rules.

It’s certainly not the first time this has happened. Last year, a 14-year old girl in London collapsed while in the middle of a cross-country competition. It took emergency workers 30-minutes to arrive, at which point they refused to carry her body through the muddy park to the ambulance as it was against health and safety regulations.

Then there was the case of 44-year old Alison Hume in Scotland; she had fallen into a mine shaft and was trapped there for six hours suffering from hypothermia because emergency service supervisors claimed that using their winch to retrieve her would be a violation of regulations.

Or the case of 10-year old Jordon Lyon of northern England, who was drowning in a local pond when two police officers arrived to the scene… and did absolutely nothing because they weren’t properly trained. Apparently you have to be trained by the government in order to jump in the water and save a drowning child.

The public outcry in each of these (and similar) incidents more often than not results in a call for more regulation. This is such a typical government reaction– the solution to a problem created by too much regulation is more regulation. It’s the only thing these people know how to do.

These examples focus on the United Kingdom… but the issue exists around the world. Common sense and human decency are becoming increasingly sidelined to what the regulation says. Any good people in the rank and file are being crushed by an amoral bureaucracy.

In the United States, the government has gone so far as to state that it has no obligation to provide police protection or emergency services; courts have routinely upheld that “a government and its agents are under no general duty to provide public services, such as police protection, to any particular individual citizen…” (Warren v. District of Columbia)

It’s all a stark reminder that government is a disease masquerading as its own cure… and that, ultimately, we only have ourselves to rely on. Trust me, this is good news. The sooner people wake up to how horrifically incompetent and amoral their governments are, the better off we’ll all be.

About the author: Simon Black is an international investor, entrepreneur, permanent traveler, free man, and founder of Sovereign Man. His free daily e-letter and crash course is about using the experiences from his life and travels to help you achieve more freedom.

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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Michael Alan Smith

     ”The sooner people wake up to how horrifically incompetent and amoral their governments are, the better off we’ll all be.”

    Problem is that people are becoming horrifically incompetent and amoral
    at the same rate.  Everybody always talks about a great awakening, it’s
    almost here, etc., but in reality, it won’t matter much. 

    • Mad Dog

      Exactly  Michael, “people are becoming horrifically incompetent and amoral …”  and AMBIVALENT and NAIVE.  Simon posted several examples that occurred in the UK – did the people or the govt wake to their incompetency … to the disease that their govt has become?  “NO”.  What makes Simon think anything will change in the UK?  What makes Simon think anything will change in ANY of the world’s incompetent, diseased governments?

      I don’t see how this is “good news”; but then again, I’m not a “Rational Optimist”!

      • Ashleysc

        Hi Mad Dog;
        I think the point Simon was trying to make was:
        It isn’t the government that can be expected to become more competent.
        It is the general population that will wise up and not expect anything from government.
        They will start to realize that they will have to solve their own problems, or their problems will remain unsolved.
        Cheers!   Stu.

  • algreg

    I agree with you Michael. You can only do what YOU can do. People wake up on their own watch.

    Great post on self-reliance, Simon.


  • jake garciaparra

    Jeff Berwick beat you to reporting on this. But I think you provided more details of the incident. He compared the situation to someone having trouble with the tides pulling them out in the ocean in Mexico. Despite no lifeguard around, every male 14+ in the vicinity rushed to the struggling person to save them.

    Both good stories of the epic tragedy of bureaucracy. No wonder there’s such a fascination with “zombies” nowadays. Market researchers do say that people like to watch what is familiar to them…

  • Mad Dog

    “25 emergency workers were at the scene” … in the UK to watch the man die.  I wonder how much that cost?  I wonder what the increased “regulations” will cost?  I wonder if next time there might be 28 or even 30 workers, and tents, vehicles and crowd control, etc. to watch the next taxpayer die. 

    I probably shouldn’t bring up cost.  The UK’s economy can afford to compound their bureaucratic incompetence – right?

  • Guest

    The same thing happened in Alameda, California, last year:

    Hey, at least it provoked an “independent review” and a 67-page report. That’ll help the next poor dumb bastard.

  • Jay

    So life DOES imitate art! You might remember  ’Brazil’ the dark 1985 movie satire of future society  by  Monty Python troupe member Terry Gilliam, which by these articles,might unintentionally have become a blueprint.

  • Nelson

    Aint that the truth. Mighty fine post, SB.

  • Legions300

    It takes two sides to come to this. Following instructions to the point of failing as a human being can’t be blamed on the system. Choice will hunt us till the end. Instruction followers could be seen as the army of governments – the higher their numbers the narrower the way to freedom. 

  • John

    You got that right.

  • GamerFromJump

    There have also needed to be laws that protect the decent who help others from the depredations of lawyers. That’s part of the reason for regulation overload.

    • Jman1085

      These exist in the U.S. – look up “good samaritan” laws

    • SpiritSplice

      Yep, it is not safe to help strangers anymore. Who wants to save a life only to be sued by the person you helped?

  • Biff Bux

    Almost the exact same thing happened in Alameda, California U.S.A. last year –

    A man drowns just yards past chest deep water as hundreds of police, coast guard and firefighters watched. Finally, a woman athlete in the crowd went out and towed the body back to shore.  The local government blamed budget cuts for the reason that the city did not have a shallow water rescue boat and team.  It appears that lack of brains and balls was the true problem.

  • Lenny_skutnik

    I agree with everything you wrote SM. The original lady witness would have done better to call her husband or son, he might have gone straight in if a strong swimmer, and before the trolls showed up there were 5 minutes for any passerby to tow the victim out. No man did. If Lenny Skutnick had been there as a senior tourist, I believe he would have gone straight in and made the save.

  • Paulbeck

    Send in the Clowns!

  • No Name

    All the more reason to never ever call the police or defer to them in an emergency.

  • Anthony_falez

    It’s funny too, if you think about it, that 25 emergency workers would show up on scene, erupt a tent, a blockade, and in the meantime create a spectacle of the event. Of course, so that the onlookers would clearly think to themselves, “Ah, look at all the good they’re doing.” And, “we need factions like this in our society, as they’re entirely necessary.” When in reality, they’re totally incompetent and consistently mismanage the available resources at hand.

  • Tim Senger

    Don’t bother calling the police anywher if you have an armed burglar in your house. They won’t respond cuz they “Don’t have the resources” but if a bank calls cuz they have been robbed of $25 then multiple police cars show up. Next time, let them know they don’t need to come cuz you shot the intruder… they will show up fast.

    • Anthony_falez

       Ah, do not worry. If you kill the intruder you will surely be charged with manslaughter!

      • Andrew Doris

        He’s not saying to kill the intruder. He’s saying to tell the cops you killed the intruder, so they will get there in time to actually stop the intruder!

  • Kratoklastes

    All of the cowardice and depraved indifference to the victims, happens because of the psychotype of people who join the ranks of government: they are obsessed with rank, perqs and position, and the more one is a ‘stickler’, the better one gets on.

    But what of the serf passers-by? Why did not a genuinely brave private citizen simply yell “Fuck this, you stupid pricks: this bloke is fucking DYING!” and jump in?

    In my life I have pulled 3 people from the water (2 unconscious) – from deep fast-flowing rivers, and from the ocean. It’s just not fucking hard – when I was a laddie we used to do the Bronze Medallion and learn how to swim clothed and rescue a dummy from the bottom of the’deep end’.

    I guess these days kiddies are too busy learning about sustainability and AGW cultism to be taught how to do CPR, mouth to mouth or the fucking fireman’s carry.

    This would NOT happen in Australia – we are still a land of wild men who would just fucking dive in: and anyone who DOES dive in, winds up on the news for being a good guy (witness the news coverage during the Qld floods o recent date). 

    (And yes, we swear a lot… because we are free men, for the moment).

  • john

    The US policemen do not work for the people. They are employees of Municipal Corps and their only duty is to protect the assets of these corps not people…And contrary to what people believe they are not govt employees! If you need proof pull up a Dun & Bradstreet report on muni corps.

    “Any particular individual citizen” as mentioned in SB quote is not a man but a fiction in law… These are private business’s posing as Govt Agencies… SB is hinting at these issues continually.

    • Snellisx4

      You my friend,  are wrong. Some US Policeman may not care about the citizens they work for but the majority of them do care. You know nothing.

      • Windy Wilson

         They may indeed care about the citizens they ostensibly work for, but their actual liability under the law, and their responsibility, as measured by their annual reviews, does not extend to protecting the citizens, despite what is painted on the doors of the Los Angeles Police cars.

  • George from Denver

    I read Jeff Berwick’s post of this the other day,  and
    read all the comments to this post.  I am encouraged
    that there were so many positive posts here.  Most
    times news like this provokes a bitch-fest.  Thanx,

  • ChasInNJ

    Was it by coincidence that Simon wrote this article two days after Fabrice Muamba suffered a heart attack during an FA Cup match? Muamba is alive today not because of government intervention but of people in the private sector doing their job.

    If you’ve been following the Muamba story as I have, you will appreciate how all involved didn’t want him to die in vain.

  • Philosophy Science

    If the water was only 2.5 feet deep, then how did he drown?

    • No

      The answer lies in the third and fourth sentences.

      My philosophy is to actually read an article before I would make any comments.

  • Kenlowder

    The overall operation was a success. The patient unfortunately died!

  • KWH

    If we do away with all regulations, then drive as fast as you want to, don’t stop for a stop sign or stop light, no airbags, no seat belts, no inspections of meat or vegetables, no fire departments, drink and drive, and a lot of other things.  Let’s go back to packing weapons and shoot it out if we do not like something.  You can live free but not for too long.  You will be in the cemetary. 

  • gsg5

    does that mean we still have to pay for those servicse no longer rendered , sounds like a racket to me , maybe those govts that do such things should be indicted for extortion and racketeering !

  • Windy Wilson

    “Apparently you have to be trained by the government in order to jump in the water and save a drowning child.”

    Lord Robert Baden-Powell is weeping.

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