Sunday, June 1, 2008

What price dignity?

Update: Read Jenkins and some of his colleagues' thoughtful comments on the TAB blog.

I don't understand the uncritical accolades being heaped upon first responders in the Newton trolley accident. It's a terrible shame that operator Terrese Edmonds died in the crash. But, it's downright nuts that firefighters and others put themselves in danger to free Ms. Edmonds well after there was no hope of saving her.

This was a quote from Newton firefighter Chris Jenkins (pictured), one of the firefighters on the scene, to the Boston Herald's Peter Gelzinis:

There were flames and sparks and oil. We had to pull back several times because we thought the car was close to toppling off the jacks. And we could only cut through so much metal at a time. Guys really did put their lives on the line, because the situation was very dangerous.

That's just reflects terrible priorities. I admire the selflessness of the line guys, but where were the bosses saying enough is enough, we don't want any more dead? Cover Ms. Edmonds as best you can, get the hell out of there, we'll start again when the cars have been stabilized, lines have been drained, and we're at no risk of adding to the death toll.

This isn't just idle contrarianism. There ought to be an investigation into why Newton's brass put firefighters at risk to recover a body. That's just not the proper application of bravery.

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