Thursday, November 25, 2010

Safety First

I never used to take too seriously Aussie jokes about Kiwis being, so to say, a few sheep short of a flock, but seeing New Zealand's apparent failure to grasp the concept of emergency rescue, I'm beginning to wonder if there may be something to them after all.

In the recent mine disaster there, rescuers were kept waiting on standby for severasl days on the basis that the mine was still full of dangerous gases. Finally a second explosion extinguished any lingering hopes that the trapped miners might still be alive.

Going by this policy, presumably New Zealand does not allow its firefighters to rush into burning buildings to save fire victims until the fire has gone out, or its lifeboatmen to set out to sea to save those aboard a sinking ship until the storm that causes the sinking has died down?

Better not send any doctors to Haiti, either - they might catch cholera.


jb said...

There's difference between heading down a 2km mineshaft with unknown concentrations of an explosive gas mixture known to be present to look for people who have probably perished and going into a burning house that's known to be structurally unimpaired at the time to rescue people who are known to be alive.

Private Beach said...

Firefighters often enter buildings that they cannot be sure are still structurally sound - the World Trade Center being an obvious example. As to whether the miners had "probably perished", the longer the rescue attempt was delayed, the greater that probability became.

Yes, there was obviously a risk to the rescuers, but one they were prepared to take.