Bonfire of the Gravities

I don’t tell many stories about the ambulance calls I run on as a volunteer medic here in rural Ouray County, Colorado, but this one is worth telling.

At 12:51 a.m. this past Saturday morning, my pager went off for an injured 16-year-old female, just a few miles from my house. It was in an odd location for a middle-of-the-night rescue, and as my wife and I got dressed, I was a bit confused.

As usual, we were rolling within a minute from the pager waking us up. I’m continually impressed by my wife’s ability to do that, considering she takes the time to put her contact lenses in!

After going “en route,” I asked Dispatch: Is this a car crash? The answer was no: it was a fall. A sheriff’s deputy was on scene.

What the Heck?

A 16-year-old girl fell in the middle of nowhere in the middle of the night? I still couldn’t wrap my mind around it in my grogginess, but headed down the rural road that heads into the pitch blackness. There wasn’t a moon (a tiny sliver was set to rise at around 3:15), and certainly no streetlights. It’s really, really dark here.

I know that road: I have some friends down there. Not quite three miles in, the county gives up on trying to maintain it. Past that point it’s a rocky, muddy, narrow mess — but in a ruggedly beautiful area. I’ve ridden my dirt bike through there, so I even know the “unmaintained” area pretty well.

We were rolling to beyond that point, where the county stops maintaining the road. Uh oh.

Keep Going: This is a wide spot. But the rutted road is pretty typical in that area, and it’s clear why. (All photos by Randy Cassingham)

Here’s a portion of the road. Where we were going is beyond this point, too. I was glad I have a four-wheel drive truck. (All photos taken by me, the next day. Be sure to read the captions, and you can click the photos to see them larger.)

Before we got to this point, we noticed that for the middle of the night, there was an awful lot of traffic coming the other way.

It slowly dawned on us: the high schoolers must be having a party in the woods again, and these cars must be kids getting the hell out of there.

Today, we remembered (er, it’s past midnight: yesterday!), was graduation at Ridgway High School.

Our presence was confirmation to them all of trouble: since I’m the Captain of the First Responder Corps, my truck is decked out with lots of flashy lights. They knew: whatever happened back there is a big problem. (I wasn’t running my siren, though: no sense in waking up the neighbors, and the oncoming traffic would see me long before they could hear me.)

Pre-Arrival Update

The deputy on-scene radioed to confirm the girl fell some distance. I knew there was only one way to fall in that area: down — way down. I recommended to the duty medic rolling to the scene that we call out the Ouray Mountain Rescue team. He agreed, and they were paged. They would have to come all the way from Ouray, after mustering at their “rescue barn” to pick up equipment. All that would take a good 45 minutes.

This is where the kids had gathered: you can see a firepit in the middle at the edge of the shadow. The dead tree in the middle background? It’s right on the edge of a cliff. Yeah: uh oh! In the sun to the right of that is a rock. More on that rock in a bit. And so much for the “Please No Trespassing” sign….

I blew past the “end of the road,” but had to slow to a crawl: in that section, the road is nothing but bare bedrock. Going slow was good, because there were parked cars littering the road. I parked behind a pickup truck blocking the road, just before the mud bog pictured above. I grabbed my portable radio and two flashlights, and gave one light to Kit. She had grabbed her own radio on the way out the door.

There was a fire in the pit, but most of the kids were sitting to the left, on a rock similar to the one shown, but larger, at the edge of the cliff. The distance between those two rocks: about 20 yards.

That’s where the deputy was, and I went over to see what he wanted done first. He was simply trying to figure out what the heck was going on, but he wasn’t the only one confused: the group of kids there — about 20 of them — had no idea whatever that one of their fellow partiers was injured. And they were only 20 yards from where she had gone over the edge, screaming. Surreal.

Booze, of Course

Meanwhile, the deputy was telling the kids to pile up their beer and other alcohol — including vodka and tequila. There was a lot of it. Some of the kids were pretty wasted.

Others, happily, were sober: one had heard the girl fall, and he and a buddy climbed down in the dark to find her. By the time we had arrived, they had found her, covered her with a sleeping bag, and one came up so he could lead rescuers down to her. That was our first break of the evening: this was a rescue operation, no searching required!

About then, I learned that one of the First Responders on my team, who also just happens to be a member of Ouray Mountain Rescue and had been behind me on the way in, had run into the kid who came up to find a rescuer, and had climbed down to the girl, and was already with her! Fantastic!

I really didn’t want to go climbing in the dark, especially since I’m not really the climbing type, but Richard, who is a climber and trained for such work (as well as an EMT), was already there. Perfect — and my second break of the evening!

A girl asked me if it was OK to call her dad. “Sure,” I said. As I was walking away to start planning what to do, I heard the start of her call: “Dad, I’m at the bonfire. And you need to know that there is alcohol here, and we just got caught by the police….”

The Obvious Questions

Why did she fall in the first place? Didn’t she know the cliff was there? Was she drunk? And why isn’t she dead?

Good questions all, but the fact is, I didn’t consider any of those questions at the time. With Richard on point for primary patient care during the rescue, and the deputy busy rounding up dozens of kids, and my wife helping to check them out for injuries or toxic levels of alcohol consumption, that left me with one role: Incident Commander.

That title isn’t as lofty as it might sound; it’s a concept from the Incident Command System, which all emergency personnel are supposed to be trained for (and I am). ICS was developed in California when I lived there, and it worked so well that the federal government requires training in its use (or “no grants for you!”) Many other countries have adopted it too.

The idea, simply, is that someone should be designated “in charge” to coordinate things, and ICS provides a structure for how that’s done.

But to try to answer those questions now, after the fact: the witness told me she “ran.” She surely knew the cliff was there, but just “ran” in the wrong direction. Happily, Richard told me later, he could detect no sign of alcohol consumption by her. It was, simply, an accident.

But as I said, at the time it didn’t matter, and I didn’t consider the questions. My job was to ensure she was brought out of there as quickly and as safely as possible, without any of the rescuers being hurt in the process. Although I admit I did ponder that last question (Why isn’t she dead?) a bit — and I’ll present my theory on the answer, below.

The Troops Start to Arrive

Where the girl fell from. This is the same rock as in the photo just above. Note the top of the tree: I think it’s significant, as I’ll explain below. You can also start to see just how deep this gorgeous canyon is. I took the next shot standing on that rock.

This is a rural area (about 4,300 full-time residents in a 550-square-mile county). At that time of night, we usually don’t even have a sheriff’s deputy on duty! Rather, we have one “on call” — the swing shift deputy goes home (if he lives in county) or to the office couch (if he doesn’t), and is awakened to respond to calls if needed.

But wait: I said he was already there. In fact, he’s the one who called in EMS, which is how I got paged to this in the first place.

The only thing I can figure (and I don’t know: I was too busy to think about it at the time), is that he had heard about the party and went to check it out. Whether he was just in the right place at the right time, or if the girl who fell is one who ran from him when he arrived, I don’t know — but she had no reason to run if she hadn’t been drinking, and she apparently hadn’t been.

I mentioned that we only have one deputy available, but “the troops” were arriving. Who?

Looking straight down at her landing spot. It’s about 35 feet down, and the landing area — at least, where she was found — is approximately the middle of this photo. Pretty much nothing but big rocks. Ow.

Before I got there, the deputy had called in a lot of manpower to help, including: the undersheriff, a deputy from the next county, and a deputy of the Ridgway Marshall, who just happens to live about a mile from the scene, and knows that area well enough to get through it blindfolded.

A cop from Ouray came up (30 minutes drive), and at least one state trooper showed up. By then, the ambulance had arrived and staged where I directed them: at the end of the maintained road. And by then, Richard had called up with requests for equipment he needed, which I relayed to the ambulance crew.

I walked back to my car and drove out to where the ambulance was staged while they gathered the equipment: a full-body vacuum splint, an I.V. setup, and more. Richard wanted a Stokes basket too, but Mountain Rescue still hadn’t arrived.

Luckily, another of the Rescue guys, Charlie, lived fairly close by and arrived while I was there, and was suiting up. He’d be able to take the bag of equipment down to Richard, and help him package the patient. Another break!

Call the Parents?

Richard called me on the radio with another request: please get the girl’s mother there. He gave me a name and a number. It’s rural, but we have cell service, thanks to a new tower that just went online some weeks ago (thanks, Verizon!) To keep the name and number private, I called dispatch by cellphone to give them the ugly task of waking up mom.

And, by the way, I asked the dispatcher, get her permission to treat her daughter medically. We were going to treat this minor anyway, since it was a life-threatening situation, but it would be nice to have official permission. Having dispatch make the call means that permission would be recorded.

I also gave the dispatcher a bone to offer mom: yes, she is conscious. That conveyed both hope, and the gravity of the situation. Dispatch called me on the radio within minutes: both parents are on the way, and of course we have permission to treat her. Good.

Incident Command Has Its Perks

By then there were some “extra” cops — pretty much, every on-duty (and some off-duty) officers within a half hour. As commander, part of my job is to deploy resources, so I collared one of the troopers: “Under no circumstances,” I ordered, “is any non-rescue vehicle to go down that road.” I was going to have enough trouble getting the Mountain Rescue vehicles in. I told the ambulance driver the same thing, in case the trooper got busy on something else. I didn’t want mom, or anyone else’s parents, to get in the way of the work we had to do.

The duty medic arrived, and I led him in, my car loaded with rescuers and equipment. I parked in the same place as before. “From here, we walk,” I said. I took Charlie to the trailhead, and he headed down with the equipment. Steve, the medic, went with him.

I got on the radio with Mountain Rescue to see how far out they were, and discovered they’d arrive in about 15 minutes. My next task was to clear a path for them all the way in, not to just where I was parked.

I got the deputy to move his truck, but there were all sorts of other vehicles parked here and there, but couldn’t be moved: the drivers — kids at the party — had run off because “the cops” had arrived. None left their keys. Great. I had a good flashlight, though, and scouted a path around the vehicles, the mud pits, and other hazards in and beside the road — and then, right between two trees, to the very edge of the cliff above the girl.

Medical Relay

Steve, the medic, couldn’t get cell service from down in the canyon. He radioed up the girl’s vitals and asked me to get “orders” for pain control for the girl — she was in quite a bit of pain. There is a “radio failure” protocol that would allow him to Just Do It, but since I had cell service, may as well get proper orders.

I called the hospital on the phone and described the situation and the request for meds. The E.R. nurse wanted to know when we’d get there. “It’ll be awhile,” I said. “At least a half-hour before we can retrieve her, and then about 40 minutes to transport.” She put the duty doctor on the phone. I relayed the patient status and request for pain control — and added that the parents were on the way, and had given treatment permission (ta dah!)

His order was cool: give as much as the medic thinks she needs up to X amount, and repeat as he thinks necessary. Medics love orders like that. I relayed it to Steve.

The Experts Arrive

Ten minutes later the Mountain Rescue team checked in: they were passing the ambulance. I ran down the road to meet them, and guided them in through the path I had made.

They come in two trucks, and happily the lead truck was the one that needed to be right at the cliff edge: it has a custom-built crane that can hang out over the cliff to winch up the victim.

I knew the two passengers in the lead truck: buddies of mine who are among the best rescue “riggers” in the world. One jumped out when I said we were at the cliff; he went to the edge and directed the driver to get closer. Closer. Closer! — until the front bumper was just 20-25 inches from the edge. Then they started setting up while others headed down to the bottom with the Stokes basket and other equipment. Won’t be long now!

The arrow shows about where the girl was lying. The tree, behind/right of the arrow, is the same one in the photo above.

This next photo shows where they were working — a side view from the area where I found that first group of kids, about 20 yards away.

The Rescue truck was parked just to the right of the dead tree in the second photo; they had to saw off some of the limbs so their crane could hang over the side.

Most of my Incident Commander job was done, now, except for watching the Ouray Mountain Rescue Team set up. OMRT was founded in 1974 precisely for technical rescue operations, since there are a lot of hazards in this mountain area. Their slogan is “Anyone, anywhere, any time,” and I love watching them work.

When I say “best in the world” I mean it: rescue teams from all over the world come here to learn from them. This winter, a Canadian military rescue team was here to train — and our team ended up rescuing one of them! They were ice climbing as recreation in their off hours, and had an accident. (I talked about the team once before in this blog, when I happened to be on scene for an ice climbing rescue.)

It takes a bit for them to set up, since the objective is to be safe, not have another accident. Once they were ready, the Captain got in the truck to move forward the final couple of feet. Nervewracking for me, with only a flashlight and a pair of headlights lighting things, but business as usual for them.

OK, Ready?

Setting up a rescue in the dark takes a bit: we don’t want anyone else hurt by being careless.

By the time everything was set, Richard and the other Mountain Rescue guys with him — the “bottom” crew — had the girl all packaged up and ready to go, and the “top” crew started hauling her up, with one of the Mountain Rescue guys riding along to reassure her, and to make sure she got a smooth ride. She got to the top in just minutes. It was around 3:00 a.m.

We weren’t done yet, though: the ambulance was staged about a quarter-mile away. Richard had scurried to the top, and had a nice big SUV — he had parked near where mine was. He ran down and got it, and blasted through the mud bog to get closer, and then took her out to the ambulance while I walked behind to keep an eye on the girl, and everything else in the back.

And then came the best part: we transferred her to the ambulance crew. By then her mom had arrived and could see her for the first time.

Only one kid was arrested, that I know of: a 19-year-old. I don’t know what the charge was, though.

Why She Didn’t Die

I’d love to say she’s alive because of an absurdly smooth rescue operation. But my theory of why she didn’t die from falling 35ft into a rock pile is this: she just happened to hit that tree that was growing where she went off the cliff.

The tree is up-slope a bit from where she landed, and is about 30ft tall; it only sticks up above the top of the cliff by a couple of feet. But when I went back to take the photos the next day, I happened to notice the tree was damaged just a little. (I tried to get some photos of that, but I just can’t see the cracked branches with the camera that I can with my eye, even when zooming in.)

The tree is growing on a little shelf of rock. I think she hit the tree, and dropped to that shelf, and then from there fell the rest of the way, to the boulders where she was found. “Ow” indeed, but it was enough to keep her from being killed, or at least terribly injured. I can’t say what I know about her injuries for privacy reasons, but I’ll say I was astounded to hear that she was able to walk with assistance by Sunday, and she’s scheduled to come home from the hospital Friday, just a week after the fall.

Ah, the resilience of youth!

I could go on and on about the dangers of teen drinking, and how something can go from “fun” to life-threatening in an instant. But I don’t think I need to.

Except for this: besides the obvious danger of partying hearty atop a cliff in the dark, this time of year the bears have awakened, and are ravenous. (This county had a case of a woman killed by a bear just two summers ago, and I wrote about that, too.) And if that’s not bad enough, that canyon is known for its mountain lion population! I sure as heck wouldn’t want to camp there, even with a gun on me. And then be drunk, too? That’s an example of “not thinking”!

Where Was Kit?

She wasn’t around me the entire time, but I could hear some of what she was doing via radio. As we packed up to leave, she filled in the details.

The Deputy Marshall who lived right by there took the job of trying to round up the kids who ran off, and she walked miles with him to help. They found several dozen and brought them back to the camp. Some were literally hiding in the rocks, lying on cactus(!) in hopes of not being seen.

Some did elude them — we heard later that they bragged about it to their friends. But several got so far out into the woods that they had to call 911 to say they were lost. The undersheriff took the job of going to get them: it’s wonderful that cellphones have GPS chips in them now! That made it easy. But in this rural area, where we have so few “troops” to help in a rescue, I would rather have had him at the scene than playing taxi for a bunch of dumbass kids who thought it was cool to run off into the night. They strained the resources I was using to save a life, and I’m unhappy about that. Another example of just not thinking. They need to know there are ramifications to their decisions.

It was good to hear that they weren’t all from here: quite a few of the partiers were from neighboring counties. At least we don’t have the sole claim to kids being foolish.

As Incident Commander of a major rescue, I can say my ad hoc team did a fantastic job. All I had to do was bark orders over the radio to keep them coordinated. If the next one goes just half as smoothly, I’ll be very, very happy! A family could have spent every Memorial Day from this one on thinking about the pretty little girl that they had lost. But a tree — and a select few well-trained and dedicated volunteers — helped her get out of her predicament alive. Sweet!

Burned out beer canP.S.: When local kids read this (and I know many will), I have something I want you to do: go clean up after your friends. There are beer cans and other garbage everywhere, including in the fire pit. We all moved here because of the natural beauty of the area. I don’t at all mind people going out and enjoying that beauty, but take your crap out with you when you leave! And since you or your schoolmates didn’t, please go back and make it happen. Thanks.

And I’ll be interested in your comments, too. You can post below.

– – –

Author’s Note: Yeah, the title is an awful pun on the gravity that pulled her off the cliff and the “gravity of the situation,” but once I thought of it, I had to use it. Especially considering the origin of the phrase!

An earlier rescue by the team is also described in this blog, and they asked me to take the photos. Happy to!

– – –

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57 Comments on “Bonfire of the Gravities

  1. I hope you can feature some aspect of “a bunch of dumbass kids who thought it was cool to run off into the night. They strained the resources I was using to save a life, and I’m unhappy about that. Another example of just not thinking. They need to know there are ramifications to their decisions.”

    Something in there seems really important for kids to hear. The stupidity of being out there near a cliff getting drunk is one part of the problem, but it’s one that is addressed pretty often out there. It’s what to do after you get caught, or when something goes wrong, that they need to hear more often.

    I’m not sure what to add to that point, beyond that yeah: cops chase you when you run! All it does is make it worse. And hey: even if they completely eluded the cops, there’s something worse waiting: their parents, who will find out about this. It’s a small town. -rc

  2. Wow, those pictures showed the gravity of situation and the danger for all involved with the teenager’s rescue. Hopefully this situation will wake some of these youth up. An awesome job by all involved with the rescue.

  3. I retired after 22 years doing the fire/rescue as a volunteer, and now go to take photos of the troops in action. I wish everyone knew how well trained most volunteers are today, and your story shows it.

    Thanks for doing your great job!

    I would have loved having someone there to take photos! But it would have been a huge challenge in the dark. Got infrared? -rc

  4. Congratulations! Quite a detailed report, which I enjoyed very much. Point one: trying to run and hide from the police, leaving the car at the scene? Wasn’t that the definition of obliviot? Point two: what a team you two make! I’d simply love to shake hands with this couple. Point three: a question: won’t bears and wild beasts be flushed away from a campfire of a probably noisy crowd?

    And point zero zero: Kudos to whomever chose you for Incident Commander.

    P1: Excellent point, of course. P2: We’d be happy to! Drop me a line next time you’re in Ridgway, Colorado! P3: Yes, unless you disturb a den, get between a mother and baby, get separated from the others, or otherwise present an opportunity for danger. As for P00: Commanders aren’t exactly chosen, as have Command thrust upon them. Seriously: the best-trained person is simply supposed to assume command, unless and until relieved by someone else with proper training. -rc

  5. None of this would have happened if alcohol weren’t illegal for minors. I’d rather see teenagers drinking at a party in a home or a rented facility than out somewhere that the law won’t find them but anything horrible can happen.

    Since the ban will never change in the USA, all parents must agree that it’s worth sacrificing a few kids now and then to maintain a system that’s a proven failure.

  6. Interesting timing for this article… just yesterday I was in town when our small town’s volunteer fire brigade’s siren went off. I’ve always meant, but forget, to time how long it takes between the siren going off and the fire engine rolling out, and finally remembered this time. Less than five minutes, which I think is pretty impressive given the circumstances. Most of the guys and gals were at work, some at home, and all had to drive to the station within the posted speed limits. My impression is that it’s not much longer at night, since I am close enough to hear the sirens from home.

    A very big YAY for rural volunteer emergency services, wherever they may be — they make a huge difference to the community.

    And thanks for sharing the story so eloquently, Randy — I’ll be sharing this on Facebook shortly so my friends can read it too. 🙂

    Thanks for sharing it, Wendy. Yeah, I’m lucky in that I don’t have to go get another vehicle to respond; that’s part of the idea, though, to get to the scene as quickly as possible while waiting for the ambulance to arrive from town, 20+ minutes away. But as a volunteer, I had to pay to equip my car for emergency response myself. The county did buy my medical gear and radio equipment, though! -rc

  7. Hooray for volunteer emergency services! I grew up in a small town with a volunteer fire department. The fire chief was also the town barber. Several times I left the barber shop with a half finished haircut when the fire alarm rang in the middle of a haircut. He’d leave, and leave us to gather our stuff and leave after he went out the front door.

  8. People in remote areas (I also live in a geographically large county populated by around 4000, more or less) often seem to feel that they’re not subject to the same foibles as people from densely populated areas, but stories like this prove otherwise.

    I think part of the danger is the belief that it “could never happen here!” And, amazingly (to me, at least), that’s true even in the densely populated areas.

    I love happy endings!

  9. Originally posted by Rafa, Spain on May 30, 2011: “Point one: trying to run and hide from the police, leaving the car at the scene? Wasn’t that the definition of obliviot?”

    This would only count as obliviot behavior if the runners had driven to the party themselves. Those who arrived as passengers wouldn’t have left any incriminating evidence at the scene. That still leaves normal level idiocy, since even if they manage to avoid getting lost on the way; they’ve still got a long hike the next morning, probably without anything like proper hiking equipment.

    In Rafa’s defense, the context was that I couldn’t get the cars moved since the drivers apparently fled, with the keys. Ironically, the one partier car I did get moved (to give the rescue truck more room at the cliff top) was otherwise out of the way, completely off the road. He was the sober witness — the exact opposite of obliviot. -rc

  10. I grew up in rural British Columbia, Canada so similar landscape to Colorado and Bush Parties were the norm in the 70’s, as well. Luckily there have been few serious incidents but there been some fatal ones. I don’t know if Bush Parties will ever stop since it is a well known fact that teenagers often consider themselves invincible — the “Sure bad things happen but they’ll never happen to ME” attitude. I read this story with interest and I praise you and the others who helped when it was needed.

  11. When I think back at the many foolish and often dangerous things I did in my teen years, it reaffirms my belief in a guardian angel.

    It is amazing so many of us survived. -rc

  12. Teenagers partying and getting wasted at graduation sounds like business as usual this time of year. I know teenagers lack sense and the ability to think about the long-term and consequences (thanks, still-developing frontal lobe!), but partying a) waaaaaaaaay off the beaten track where hungry bears and cougars are known to be on the loose and b) near a cliff strikes me as two kinds of stupid that go beyond the lack of gray matter. I think it would do a lot of good for, at the very least, high school juniors and seniors to spend a night or two going out with EMTs and paramedics during prom and graduation season to see the ugly realities of what speeding, drinking and driving, and other things teens consider themselves bulletproof against.

    We did a “drunk driving crash” scene for the schools, which students clearly found impressive (in the literal sense of that word). But it was 2-3 years ago, so it’s time to do it again. -rc

  13. Thanks for this posting and those of the OMRT, Ice Festival, etc. My wife and I have not lived in Colorado for nearly 35 years, even though Colorado will always be my HOME.

    Having been an EMT/EMTa in an Idaho community 26 years ago, I found your photos and those of the OMRT strong reminders of those times. Of rolling out of bed to the radio tones at all hours of the night. Driving on ice covered roads to find adults and children seated on top of their auto that slid off of the road into the river, etc. Or pulling people out of the river near their fully submerged auto by the only lights (their headlights still on in the water and our flashlights).
    Many people do not realize the dangers they inadvertently put themselves and their rescuers in even while people are trying to help them.

    The sad thing is that those who come from large communities very often do not realize they are being aided by volunteer first responders and the hours of time you give to train, practice, etc.

    The young lady, her parents and your community are extremely fortunate you have people who are qualified to administer medications / IV’s, etc. There are many area that are not so lucky and must rely upon Advanced Life Support ambulance or ALS Helicopter when available.

    If people think ambulance service is expensive, try a helicopter ambulance. Around here, the starting price is about $16,000. But they are sometimes the difference between life and death. -rc

  14. What a great story, thanks!

    In this, the International year of the volunteer, I think it is good to hear such narratives from someone on the more difficult and dangerous end of volunteering. The end where the prospect of getting sued, or charged as a result of your good deeds is ever present. Well done!

    I am always uplifted when I hear stories about the generosity and spirit that exists all around us. The Victorian bush fires where volunteer rural firefighters from New Zealand, US and Canada all flew out to help people they have never met. The global response to the Christchurch earthquake that saw S&R teams from around the world (mostly volunteer units) drop everything to help and then drop everything again to rush to Japan. The devastating Queensland floods that had SES crews working for weeks without a break and without pay to strengthen levees and the thousands of volunteers that waded through putrid mud and filth to help complete strangers empty their homes of water logged possessions and inches of mud after the waters receded.

    Keep up the good work, all of you.

  15. In your opening remarks about starting your response you mentioned your wife putting in her contacts after waking up. Long ago (1975) when I was an EMT in a hospital based paramedic first response unit, my paramedic complained that she had lost one of her contacts while we were responding to an after midnight call. When we returned we discovered, after removing the sink trap, that she had put both contacts in the same eye.

  16. Well I cannot say I’m surprised (living in a city of a country where alcohol is allowed starting at 15-16 (for beer and wine) one can see the “stupidity of youth” more often, possibly) but happy that nothing more serious happened!

    What struck me funny is, that near the village I grew up in (which is much less but still rural) there is a place where people like to party which looks very similar and also borders a cliff. The real difference is that the cliff is a former quarry and goes down some 50 meters of bedrock….

  17. “None of this would have happened if alcohol weren’t illegal for minors.”

    Truly??? So murders occur because there are laws against it? Alcohol has always been illegal for minors. That was true in my parents’ days, and I’m pushing 60. And if I researched it, it was probably true in my grandparents’ day, who came of age during Prohibition when it was illegal for everyone. I do disagree with the underage restriction for a portion of adult society, but minors have never been privileged.

  18. Kudos to you and your team! Amazing to have that dedication at the volunteer level.

    As you stated – yet another example of stupid thoughtlessness on the partiers part.

  19. I must say that i am thankful knowing that in this beautiful yet dangerous place we have amazing and dedicated EMS and Mountain Rescue personnel. They are volunteers, or dang close to it, and it’s their sense of dedication that has saved countless lives in this county.

    That being said, this situation could have been avoided if one cop would have taken a step back and realized the stupidity of what he was doing. I know people that were at that party, and when a cop rolls up, kids will run. Nobody wants an MIP on their record and can you blame them? can you seriously expect kids to just welcome the cops with open arms? ‘we’re all so sorry, we know we’ve been bad, we’re so grateful that you’re here to discipline us and set us on the straight and narrow…’ yea right, what would you have done as kids? yea, i thought so.

    The simple fact of the matter is that kids will party, and that WILL NEVER CHANGE. What can change though is the way the cops respond. I go to college in a place where the cops are respected because if they do come and break up a party, they do it not because it’s a party, but because maybe its disturbing some other people, or some such. Nobody gets MIPs unless they’re being belligerent, the cops will simply send people home, and will even give them a ride if they are too inebriated. As such, nobody really runs from the cops, and no more dangerous situations are created, nor are drunk kids spewed in every direction to cause more problems.

    The cops of this county need to seriously rethink their attitude towards the kids of this area. Whether it’s because they have nothing better to do, or because it’s simply easier, the cops in this area have taken to the kids of this area as white blood cells take to a virus. Except that the kids of this county are not some infection to be purged.

    Rather than roll up to the party, causing the kids to scatter, why not simply set up a DUI checkpoint on the way out, and tell the kids to txt/call their friends still at the party and let them know that NOBODY is going to get in trouble for anything, so long as nobody is driving drunk. I know it doesn’t give the same thrill as being the big enforcer breaking up a gang of unruly little criminals, but it is, by far, the safest and most effective option.

    I will reiterate, two things will never change: kids will party (especially after graduation), and unless they see them as protectors rather than jailers, kids will run from the cops. While i agree that partying next to a cliff wasn’t the best idea, just lumping this on ‘the stupidity of youth’ is nothing more than a cheap cop out. Steps can be taken to avoid this ever happening again thus just shrugging one’s shoulders and assuming that all youth are just stupid is a shining example of the stupidity of adults.

    The motto of cops everywhere is to “Serve and Protect.” Last friday the cops of this county forgot that motto and nearly killed a girl. I encourage all OC cops and cops everywhere to rethink how they’ve been handling kids and to realize that you have to ability to be a ‘protector’ not just the jailer and enforcer.

    P.S. I am not listing my first name because, as far as i can think, i am the only youth in my county with my name and while i would like to imagine this wouldn’t happen, i would rather not be singled out and watched by the cops, as i know has happened to some youths in the area.

    For those who don’t know, MIP is “Minor in Possession”. There’s an absurdly simple way to keep that off your record, isn’t there?

    So, the deputy was, you think, conducting a massive raid — all by himself? And it’s all his fault for being so stupid as to do the job he was sworn to do? And that my saying the kids who ran even if they were not drinking is “stupidity” (a word I didn’t use, by the way) is a “cop out”? Get real.

    I don’t know the facts of exactly what happened, and I was there! Yet you, who was not there, think it’s fine to convict a man based on rumor. Great example of “thinking” there. I see you watch TV: you learned (backwards) that the LAPD slogan is “To Protect and To Serve” (which is not the motto of all cops). But OK, let’s go with your ideal. So a deputy gets information that there are 50 kids out getting drunk in the dark on the top of a cliff. Your proposed solution is for him to say “No problem, kids! I’ll just text one of you (how I have your number and know your phone works there is not my problem) and say ‘don’t get TOO drunk, ok? Have a nice evening!'” And you want to be taken seriously?

    No, it’s his DUTY both as a cop and as a human being to ensure those kids, who ARE in fact acting stupidly, are OK. He went and checked — he served his sworn DUTY “to protect” their lives. Yet you brand him — one of the most mellow cops in this county — a “near killer.” Seems to me you want him in a no-win situation. But thankfully we don’t play by your childish and contradictory rules. He must act according to his duty, and he did. Do you actually even know what “duty” means? What it really means in a moral, ethical, and legal sense? Words like “required,” “obligation” and more come in to play here, and there are harsh penalties for ignoring such duty. As a medic, I have a “duty to act” within the law in many circumstances — especially with minors. So does he, especially when he is “on duty” (there’s that word again!) and being paid to do so. “To protect” may not be the local cops’ motto, but it is part of his job. And you first demand it, and then condemn him for it.

    The “cop out” here is to blame the cop for doing what he must do: check the welfare of people he has good reason to believe are in jeopardy in what you yourself label as a “dangerous place.” Could law enforcement do a much better job of establishing good relations with kids? You bet! But it’s not a one-way street: the kids have to meet them half way, and you have made it clear with your words that you haven’t. So who, really, is to blame here?

    Last, saying you fear retaliation for stating your opinion is ironic, considering we’re discussing this on a blog where put my name and photo on everything I publish. I stand up and buck the system again and again (look around this site; you’ll find hundreds of examples), but you’re afraid to. That says something too, doesn’t it? I hope you grow up soon. -rc

  20. This is just another in a long line of reasons why we need to rethink the way we deal with alcohol in this country… especially when it comes to teens and college students. Our puritanical tactics just aren’t working.

    Instead of accepting that alcohol really isn’t going anywhere and that kids will want to try it we have stuck our heads in the sand and have continued to wage a losing war against demon rum. Our kids deserve a more adult response from us.

    This reminds me of all the binge drinking stories I hear coming out of universities across the country where grown adults are drinking themselves to death hidden from view. Their “friends” abandon them just like the kids in this story because they’re afraid of getting in trouble.

    Our kids are not as dumb as we think they are, but they are not as smart as they think they are. We have to equip them better to deal with the realities of alcohol, but we also need to be aware of the reality that they are going to experiment with it. We can either find a happy medium and balance treating them as young adults with our role as mentors and teachers or we can continue to behave like overgrown, reactionary obliviots.

    Dead kids make for bad laws, but they also make for sad parents. It’s time we applied a little rationality and reason to the problem.

    I agree completely. Complete prohibition until the day they turn 21 is lunacy. A change of one day doesn’t make someone responsible, experience does. My parents always said “yes” when I wanted a taste, whether it was wine at dinner or a cocktail. Sometimes I liked it, more often I didn’t. I still drink pretty darned sparingly; I’m just not interested in binging. And isn’t that exactly what society wants? But, as you say, the way we’re doing it is not leading to that desired outcome. Time for an intelligent change. -rc

  21. One more thought:

    Originally posted by Rafa, Spain on May 30, 2011: “Point one: trying to run and hide from the police, leaving the car at the scene? Wasn’t that the definition of obliviot?”

    Unless the laws are radically different there, I doubt BEING there was a crime. There isn’t much the police can do unless they catch a minor while he/she is intoxicated. Being there certainly wasn’t bright, but I don’t think leaving like that makes them an obliviot. I’ll reserve that title for those that set our alcohol and drug policies in this country.

    I’ll again come to Rafa’s defense. Being there is indeed not a crime. What Rafa was pointing out was, cars are easily traced. Sure the kid wasn’t caught, but the car can and will be traced to him. And even if they “got away with” being drunk with the police, they will have less luck with their parents, when inquires are made as to who was driving that vehicle that evening. At least, they’ll be in trouble if they have good parents! -rc

  22. Great Article, Randy. I heard about this a short while after it happened, then again today at school (as I’m sure countless others did) and I just wanted to say that I know some of the people that were there (the only ones I knew were two that ran). And they ran together with a third person.

    Now, regressing momentarily, I don’t drink and I don’t party, and I wasn’t drinking or partying, particularly not at this party. However, back on topic, the two people that I knew who had run away when the cops showed up, got lost in the forest, VERY lost, and one of them called 911 eventually, but the other one and the third person, continued to run and “got away” from the cops. The one that did the right thing and called 911 to turn herself in/be found (therefore becoming un-lost) is now in SERIOUS trouble while the ones who kept running are free and clear, with no consequences and even bragging about it. The three of them ran when a friend FELL OFF OF A CLIFF and just left her there, probably didn’t even notice, a terrible thing to do, then when one of them grows enough brains to call 911 and get help and turn herself in, she gets in serious trouble while the two even worse people kept running and got away free and clear and even had the nerve to brag about it, where the hell is the justice in this?!

    It’s sad to think someone could brag that they left a friend terribly injured and — as far as they knew — dying, isn’t it? I don’t know how serious the trouble is that your friend got into, but I assume you mean with her parents. Don’t you think it’s likely that they’d be in trouble anyway, even if they didn’t run? As for those who got away, it’s early yet: time will tell if they truly escaped trouble. And even if they do, I imagine their consciences will be bothering them for a long time to come. Not to mention their friends may not think much of this bragging!

    The thing is, there are consequences for the decisions we make. The kids who ran made the girl’s rescue much harder, with their cars left in the way, and/or with people having to go help them when they called 911, lost in the woods. That sucks! They made a bad situation worse. If they get grounded for awhile, or even have to do some community service time, isn’t that a reasonable response for their actions?

    This is serious business. It’s a miracle that girl wasn’t killed, and I’m pretty sure you realize that. Yeah, some kids are going to get in trouble over it, and that’s part of growing up and learning responsibility. But I don’t think very many will “get away with it” completely. Trust me: this sort of thing isn’t something you’d want on your conscience! Thanks for your comment. -rc

  23. I grew up in Ouray and I know all at too well what it was like to do a woodsy or two. Things aren’t like they were when I was a in high school, and it is a miracle that someone didn’t DIE when we were on a cliff’s edge. I do hope that this is read by the teenagers in Ouray and I hope it makes them think about what almost could have been and what was last 4th of July when one young man did die after a fall from a cliff. Thanks for the well written blog and pictures. You and your wife are two of the unsung heroes of SAR and I’m sure that it will be much appreciated by the young woman’s family.

  24. Congratulations. The stars were aligned for that young lady on that particular night. Have you had your after action review yet? Going over what you can do better next time is as important as what you did this time. Again, congratulations. Well done!

    My team does its after-action by email, and there was definitely a conversation on this one! -rc

  25. Huge Kudos to you, Randy, and every other volunteer and professional first responder who is out there doing their best to keep the rest of us safe! As a former volunteer firefighter myself, I well remember being awakened in the middle of the night countless times to respond to emergencies. It taught me a respect for our first responders that will last a lifetime. The kids involved in this (and any other similar) incident will some day come to realize that they are somewhat less than invincible and to appreciate the actions taken to protect them. Thanks for doing what you and Kit do — as I say, my thanks go out to all such people out there!

    And thanks, too, for your years of service and constant training to help protect the community. I know that the thank-yous are few and far between. -rc

  26. I just wanted to say thank you to you for doing what you do best that girl needed help and you guided the team to help her. I wish more people were like that and I thank you and your team.

  27. Although you’re in another country, I’d like to thank you and all the other volunteer emergency people who do this work around the world. You all risk your lives to help others, usually people who don’t know and never meet again.

    I wish to make a point to any of the teens who may be reading this, and also a few others. As an ex-cop, I can tell you, it matters not what you have or haven’t done, if you run a cop will chase as it’s an automatic assumption you’ve done something very, very bad; otherwise you wouldn’t run. In most jurisdictions running from the police is also another crime and you can be charged even if there is nothing else to charge you with. I know of many cases where people have stood and spoken with the police at an incident and been given a warning, while those who ran were later caught and charged. So stay and talk is more likely to see you let off.

    On another aspect of this. Here in Australia we allow alcohol at eighteen and we do have an issue with teenage drunks that isn’t as bad as that reported in the USA (based on reported stats as percentage of teen population), despite it being legal here. We do have issues with under-age drinkers too, but it doesn’t seem to be as bad as the USA. From what I can make through the media, any US teen near any party with alcohol seems to have an automatic reaction to run, it’s as if they expect to get arrested if anyone there has an alcohol. If this is NOT the case, please publicise it more as it should lead to less people running, and should also lead to more deciding to not drink.

    More about teens and alcohol. When I was growing up it was legal for kids to have alcohol if their parents provided it; thus most kids had a taste as they grew up – that is now the case too. At one stage it was not legal for parents to let their kids have alcohol, thus the kids had no idea of what effect it had on them, and teen alcoholism was a bigger problem than before or since. The laws have changed back now, but it does show how early training and education can have a beneficial effect.

    I hope the girl recovers well, and I hope the people in your area thank whatever deity they do or don’t believe in for the quality of emergency volunteers they have working there.

    I hope people will read what you said about running from cops, and maybe learn something. It’s smart advice. -rc

  28. Where I learned ICS, in an in-house response team, we added one thing at the beginning. We had no uniforms and people arriving directly from other activities, typical volunteer situation. There was no guarantee that you’d ever met the other responders before.

    Arriving on scene, you ask “who’s in charge?” If no one answers, you are. Until you formally transfer it.

    Great write up Randy!

    Good policy! -rc

  29. We don’t thank the police, emergency medical services and rescue teams enough. I am guessing the majority are volunteers too. Thanks to all of you for what you do.

  30. As a former volunteer smoke diver and bloodhound handler, I worked closely with law enforcement and volunteers of all kinds. I was so inspired by the people I worked with that I started my own search & rescue team. We did everything from tracking Alzheimers patients who had wandered off to pulling MVA victims out of ravines to attacking burning buildings. I got the full flavor of what it means to be completely self-reliant.

    When you thrust yourself into situations like those, you grow up fast. You learn to think quickly and make good choices. You screw up — and somebody gets hurt. Maybe you.

    You also find out rapidly that you don’t have just one job. You do everything that needs doing. I served as both Incident Commander and Senior Grunt. I managed my team, but I also hauled equipment, shoveled debris, searched for bodies, drove ambulances, applied tourniquets, washed dirty gear, stumbled through brambles, and everything in between.

    I ended up teaching others what I had learned. In retrospect I’d say we did a lot of good. We saved some lives, learned a lot, even managed to have some fun along the way.

    I was asked not long ago why I did it. I suppose the real answer is: I did it for ME. I was never paid a cent and didn’t expect to be paid. That was the deal. I’m good with that.

    Volunteers and cops both know that putting oneself in harm’s way is risky. Not surprisingly, it is not the general attitude of “citizens,” who expect to be serviced, even though they usually cause their own problems (which includes teenagers at midnight parties on cliff faces). No comment from me is needed on that.

    Point is: It all started by being inspired by the attitudes of people who genuinely cared about things beyond their own needs and comfort. Their attitudes motivated me to be a self-starter and make good things happen.

    Thus, if you push yourself beyond your perceived limits, you will grow beyond your expectations. That’s why I respect Randy for his service and dedication. I’m also happy to say it’s not uncommon. There are a lot of good people out there helping others, in the middle of nowhere at 3:00am, unpaid and unnoticed — and even though they all deserve to be acknowledged, many do it for no other reason than they like what they see when they look in the mirror.

    By the way: I’m 57 years old and still trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up.

    As am I, Tom (though I’m younger than 57!) I know: I’ll be Huck Finn, and you be Tom Sawyer. We’ll have adventures together! -rc

  31. Who knows what is going to happen when a cop shows up. I was taking a walk in the woods twenty years back when I saw a police car parked at the end of the dirt track ahead, directly in my path. Not wanting to walk up onto the car and surprise an armed and possibly hostile officer, I elected to climb onto the railroad tracks that ran nearby so that I was readily visible to the officer. This of course made me a trespasser on the railroad property and the officer held me at gun point for 45 minutes until backup arrive. Have you ever tried holding your arms in the air for 45 minutes, knowing that if you flinch you may be dead, my heart didn’t stop pounding for three days, I would rather have run.

    Give the kids a break, they are just being normal teens in a land where seesaws are considers to dangerous to allow tots to play on. Lets kids be kids and teens be teens, we are all just fallible humans after all. At 58 years of age, I would rather die doing something stupid than to never have done something stupid at all.

    I covered this in a previous comment response, but once a cop gets information that there is a huge bunch of kids that are trespassing and getting drunk in a hugely dangerous location, what is he to do? He must go check things out. Period. Your alternative is…? -rc

  32. Great post from start to finish. I’m a fast reader but I took my time toget the full flavor of the article. You captured the mood. Thanx

  33. Thanks for publishing this piece, and I am so impressed with the rescue and how it was handled, coordinated with the right people in the right place at the right time. Your training is extensive and needs to be recognized more.

    I live at the Jersey shore area of southern NJ where the altitude is 0 sealevel, and inland might be 20′. Kids use the parkway entrance and exit grassy areas for rare snow sledding. I’m a retired RN, and cannot imagine my EVER being capable of doing what you all do, and at altitude. I admit to fear of heights even after living in NYC on the 37th floor overlooking the East River.

    Thanks for doing the job you do.

    In case you’re curious, the elevation there (at the cliff top, where I was) is about 7500′. -rc

  34. I agree with all the ‘thank you to volunteers and others’ comments previously posted.

    I definitely did my fair share of risk behaviour when much younger and very glad I survived it. It is said to be old and wise you need to have once been young and stupid.

    One idea that has come up a few times that I feel compelled to mention is the idea that to run from the police is not the thing to ever do. I feel that some police may be the ones requiring some training here on this issue, particularly the assumption that they must have done something wrong in order to be running away. Let me explain.

    In Australia there is a fair proportion of the population derived from countries and cultures outside of Australia and a proportion of these are from a Non English Speaking Background and maybe also from recognised refugee status countries. There is a need to protect these people since they have a very real threat of death or physical harm should they return to their original country of origin. They have no protection from the local authorities.

    The point here is that as a result of their culture, background or experience, there is a genuine fear of anyone in authority regardless of the situation.

    There is no doubt in my mind that many young people may feel a similar fear as a result of them feeling that they, as young people, are being targeted by police.

    No doubt, some will be running simply because they are guilty and want to avoid detection. It seems to me though that the young lady in question was not running due to guilt.

    Around 2% of Australia’s population are Indigenous people. I am one of these. While non-indigenous kids were being taught that ‘if you are ever in any trouble, a police man is your friend,’ we were being instructed to run at all costs and do not get caught if you even see the police or the child welfare.
    Google “Stolen Generations” and watch the movie “Rabbit-proof Fence” and you will have an idea of what I am talking about.

    I grew up with a fear of the child welfare services and raised my kids while still holding on to the same irrational fears myself.

    Now this may not all have much to do with things in the US or in your particular county, however I don’t think that I need to tell anyone what anyone becomes when they assume.

    For the police to automatically assume that one must be guilty simply because they are running away is the attitude that can cost a life and I know of at least one situation here in Australia that did.
    So perhaps an understanding of this could help in the future don’t you think?

    Indigenous citizens is not an issue here. I thought Boulder, Colorado, was white. It looks rather cosmopolitan compared to here! (I grew up in Los Angeles, so was quite used to seeing lots of different skin tones.) So while your point is valid in many areas, it wasn’t an issue here. Some kids certainly “think” the cops are targeting them, but I’ve never seen even a glimmer of that actually happening around here. -rc

  35. Thanks to ALL our responders. Patty from Columbus, KS and her fellow responders. Everyone who responded to Joplin May22. And all the other responders out there.


    Yeah, Joplin would be one hell of a challenge, but I’ve heard they got to the hospital that was hit very quickly, and in huge numbers, to move the patients out. Awesome! -rc

  36. In a separate conversation on this topic, I was discussing the concept of Personal Responsibility. Some may know it by a different name: Integrity. The world is full of poor managers who will throw their subordinates “under the bus” to protect their own butts, while a good manager will shoulder the ultimate responsibility for the failure of his people. Ultimately, it’s his failure for not instructing his people properly, not following up to see that it’s being done correctly, or not allocating his resources (people and skills) as necessary.

    Granted, there ARE things out of one’s own control, but not one’s own reaction to those situations. To blame your own reactions on the behavior of others is to admit lack of control of yourself. So how can you possibly manage others if you cannot even manage yourself?

    Kids are not born with this insight; it must be taught. It starts with parents, who are understandably busy with Life, busting butt just to make a living and trying to support their families. But many parents never grew up, themselves, to learn personal responsibility. “Integrity” is a dirty word, a description of a “sucker” who gets caught.

    It continues with our (American) educational system. Schools don’t want to be in the position of teaching “value systems” to students, as that’s the parents’ role. And then the schools teach the current “trendy” value system, often contrary to the parents’ values.

    Because, at the core, our very social fabric contradicts the notion of personal responsibility. To admit wrongdoing of anything is weakness. It’s Confession, an admission of Guilt, and punishable by our legal system. Integrity is already expensive enough on ourselves without our legal system to financially bankrupt us when we own up to it.

    Kids hear what is being said, but they see what is being taught. How can we possibly expect our kids to own up to responsibility when adults so amply demonstrate effort to avoid it even in the smallest situations? It’s always “somebody else’s fault.”

    Randy said it’s sad that kids will run away to avoid a chewing out by their parents, or perhaps grounding, maybe a lousy misdemeanor ticket, even at the expense of a friend dying. Yes, it’s truly pathetic, but not surprising when the example is already set by adults. Especially by adults who claim they did the same thing as kids and they insist it’s still a valid excuse today.

  37. There have been a number of comments about cops who too often use their badges to harrass people, especially kids. And there are those, no doubt about it. I like to say that they make up about 5% of all cops, which leaves 95% as honest, just doing their jobs (that WE pay them for) — normal folks. Well, in reality, it’s probably more like 25% of them are badge-heavy, swaggering, power-mongers that like pushing their authority on others. Which STILL leaves 75% of them as decent, ordinary people with a job to do.

    So, with so many jerks in uniform, why do I give them my support? Because I can’t control them, but I can control myself, which is how they perceive me. Come on, people, you don’t think cops don’t know about your drinking areas? They don’t need a complaint from “people” who don’t even live out there. They already know that they can ride up, anytime, and make a bust. Why set yourself up for harassment and potential prosecution? In other words, avoid trouble before it ever gets to you.

    There are ways to get blind stinking drunk underage without getting busted, and without putting yourself in danger of falling off cliffs or getting mauled by predatory wildlife. But it takes a little thought, and a little self-control. For example, if you use somebody’s house, you DON’T create so much noise that the cops have to investigate. And, unlike the mess you left in the woods, you do have to clean up afterward (even if you come back the next day). Yes, personal responsibility applies even when breaking the law. If you can’t even do that little bit, then you deserve to spend time in jail.

    I definitely agree that there are bigger proportion of badge-swaggering cops in some places. Denver, for example, has fired something like 8 cops so far this year! There’s clearly something going on there. Yet: there are something like 1,500 cops in Denver. Our sheriff’s department is around 7 cops, in total. It’s hard to be an anonymous, faceless, “uniform” here. Here, it’s not “What’s your badge number?! [so I can report you!]”, it’s “Did you see what Jake did?!” (and usually, it’s because he did something pretty cool!) I noted that the deputy on this call is particularly mellow. He is: he used to be a medic, so he’s grown used to keeping his cool in the face of chaos. -rc

  38. I have to disagree with Mike’s passing remark about school systems teaching “trendy” value systems. Teachers in general are overworked and underpaid professionals who have strong traditional value systems and try to instill those value systems in their students. My wife has been a teacher for many years and it’s a rare day when she doesn’t continue to work from home well into the evening, preparing lessons, calling parents, grading assignments, whatever needs to be done. She routinely helps students both during lunch and after school. Her proudest moments are when she helps a struggling student out of an academic or personal abyss (and for some students abyss is not too strong a word), and nothing gives her more joy than when a struggling student goes on to college and gets academic honors. Most teachers feel a similar strong sense of responsibility, so slighting the profession is both shortsighted and inaccurate.

  39. There were some comments a few pages back saying how you don’t get in trouble just for being there if you don’t run and aren’t drunk — that’s not true everywhere; I know of kids who have gotten in trouble just for being in the presence of underage drinking and the educational literature on the subject that I remember receiving said I was just as guilty for being in the room with underage drinking as if I had been drinking — even if I didn’t even know there was drinking there, by MA law I would still be guilty. (The things you find out growing up as a social worker’s daughter…)

    I can easily see how kids not necessarily familiar with state-by-state changes in the law might get the idea that they can get in trouble just for being there, especially with the proliferation of internet, and an underage drinking bust if you’re over eighteen haunts your record forever because you’re a convicted felon in the adult courts, which can hamper your ability to get a job and might get your college admission revoked. All that seems like a pretty high price to pay for a night of experimentation with alcohol.

    Running from the cops is still a bad idea… but I kind of understand why they do it. “Everyone knows” that cops are out to get teens. How much of that is persecution complex and how much of that is reality probably varies by city.

    And remember that laws vary from state to state, so even if what you say is true in Massachusetts, it’s not necessarily true in any other state. -rc

  40. I just wanted to add my thank yous to those who not only put their lives on the line in some cases (it sounds like there would have been several possible ways for the volunteers to get hurt here as well, doing a lot of work right on the edge of a cliff), but also make sacrifices in many other ways as well (for example, time you could have spent doing other things [such as sleep]). I don’t believe (having done a bit of investigating) that we have a volunteer EMT program in my area (which makes sense because it’s a densely populated area with plenty of paid EMTs), but I’m so thankful for everyone who does this important job (paid or not). And congratulations on a good ending; as was pointed out earlier, one more family/group of friends who do NOT have to mourn each Memorial Day because of this accident.

  41. I was a volunteer Firefighter for 20 years, Military Police (USMC) for 2 years, Police Officer for 7 (disabled on-duty accident) and even ran with the ambulance for awhile. Dad started the family volunteering in 1956 and in Law Enforcement in 1965. Now my son and nephews carry on the tradition.

    This reminds me of my first rescue with the ambulance back in 1978. Car hit a telephone pole and was hanging over a significant drop to a house about 30′ below. Since it was just a rear wheel and bumper holding the VW Bug from dropping, the smallest member had to crawl in and assess the victim while awaiting the fire engine and ropes. Guess who?

    I crawled in, secured a C-collar and checked vitals. Called the vitals out to other crew members and then realized the bloody face I was looking at was a classmate and friend. Fortunately he only suffered a broken arm, cuts and bruises. He also was not drinking but fell asleep at the wheel.

    As a Police Officer, I had my share of bloody accidents, amputations and mangled young bodies. We once raided a high school graduation party in a townhome that had more beer and liquor than the local pub. Some jumped from 2nd story windows breaking legs, ankles, arms, and some just running off. Some were clothed, some partially unclothed, some naked. One even thought he could escape if he punched the cop (me again) in the mouth. It only got him hit and cuffed, then really beaten by his father until we were able to pull Dad off.

    Some hid in the attic burrowing under the insulation. Put too many bodies on the sheetrock and it will give. One girl ended up wedged in the rafters with her neck grotesquly twisted to a point we were sure had killed her. We (myself, fellow officers and our volunteer fire and ambulance crews) gently removed her and had her transported to the hospital where she remained in an alcohol induced coma for several days.

    So I want to thank you for what you and your wife do. Many don’t realize the value and professionalism of the volunteer or the risks they take to keep us safe. They also are oblivious to what it would cost if every volunteer quit and they had to pay for the services provided.

    To Michael from Portland OR, either you are currently not of legal drinking age or you drank way too much in your younger days. Making alcohol consumption legal for those currently below the legal age would be to doom our future to anihilation.

    Son, I truly hope you never have the displeasure of peeling a young body out of the remnants of a car, scraping the remains off the street or sidewalk, carrying severed limbs into an ER hoping you got it there with enough time that some very talented surgeon may be able to reattach it, or look into the face of a heartbroken parent who’s life has just been forever changed by the news you have the chore of breaking to them. May you never know the fear that sends you to your own home and into your own child’s bed to hold them close and pray they never leave you the way someone else’s child just left — bleeding to death in the hands of a stranger.

    The last high school reunion I was at was held at a funeral home, just weeks after the class had graduated, as they gathered to say goodbye to their friend who never made it to college. The whole class showed up at the viewing and the funeral the next day and cried a river of tears, as did my friend and his wife as they burried their son.

    No Michael, making it legal would only encourage the behavior and make many more scenes like Randy and I have just laid before you.

  42. Congrats on an IC job that was well done. Been there and done that many times in a private manufacturing environment.

    As to the comments on drinking age, etc., you are all right in that our current system is not effective in many cases. The best way to make the decision on who should be allowed to consume alcohol would be some system where a person would have shown that they can be responsible enough to drink in a manner that was safe for not only themself but for everyone else they may affect while doing so. It is obvious by their actions this particular night that MANY of the persons present have no responsibility and therefore have no business drinking.

    For those persons that were there, don’t blame the cop for showing up, regardless of his intentions. Blame yourself for putting yourself into that situation. Take responsibility for your own actions and the decisions you made. One young lady is suffering consequences way beyond anything she might have done wrong, all because of bad decisions. Maybe she ran off the cliff because someone else yelled RUN! and caused her to panic when the cop showed up. I would not want to be that person every night at bedtime; I have a conscience. Certainly many poor decisions were made that night by several people.

    To the kids that were there, if you stayed, you did the right thing. If you ran, well, don’t think you are as anonymous as you would like to think you are. Next time there is trouble, I hope your friends are truly friends that will stay and help and not just run to leave you to rot wherever… not that you deserve the help.

    Remember that if you run from the police, even if you have not done anything else wrong, in many places, you have just committed a misdemeanor criminal act. You COULD go to jail JUST for running. The probable consequence of getting caught at this party?? Maybe a MIP or underage consumption infraction, fines, maybe some community service. If under 18, probably would have a parent have to come pick you up. In some places, loss of driving privilege until 21. ALL still better than having a CRIMINAL record for LIFE.

    Sooo… about that trip up to Canada. NOT. ANY country requiring a visa for entry. NOT, a job working around children. NOT, need a security clearance for work. NOT, join the military. NOT. Want to adopt or be a foster parent. NO WAY JOSE!

    Worth the risk?? I think NOT!

    I certainly made some poor decisions at that age, thankfully none resulted in someone becoming seriously injured (some certainly could have). I also learned over the years to choose friends carefully, and to re-examine those friendships occasionally. The type of person that runs when you or someone else is in trouble rarely is worth the time to say hello to, let alone to try to be friends with. You don’t want to be the one they leave behind next time (and they WILL leave you behind if given the chance).

  43. Just curious…

    Did ANY of them make an effort to come back and remove the debris they left behind? I think it says much for the few who would (if any).

    I popped back a couple of weeks after …but no, it was still trashed. -rc

  44. Let me first say that I appreciate everything that was done to rescue this wonderful and spirited young lady. Also I have a very minor correction to make she is 15 not 16.

    That being said this event has caused many people in the community to re-examine their relationships with these students, friends, children… perhaps we need to also look at the relationships between the law and the citizens. I am not saying these kids were in the right in fact I know they weren’t however the law also needs to take accountability for the role they have played in this event! Regardless of the fact they were doing their jobs, had an officer actually gone into the bonfire, without “spotlighting” these kids, the situations would have been handeled much more calmly, with less injury and waste of both time and tax payer dollars!

    I’m very glad to have the chance to read a rescuers point of view and I have heard the stories from many sides including from that of this great girl, the one group I haven’t heard from is the initial group of officers who were on the scene and I believe the community and the family would like to hear their point of view and some semblance of responsibility for this event. There was enough thought to call in the “manpower” but not enough to organize a safe plan of execution.

    I have been hearing a lot about the rescue (which I admire) a lot about the kids (who have made choices which ultimately affected them negatively) and I still have yet to hear from anyone else! Responsibility is earned and right now I feel that the police force is hiding behind blame rather than accepting even a sliver of reaponsibility.

    I happen to know that many people are blaming the police force and obviously these kids, however, both sides need to be taking responsibility and apolagizing to each other… cleaning up the bonfire site is a great start for these kids… what about the police force? Maybe hold a fund raiser and give the contributions to the family of this little girl, no public apology but rather a positive gesture to express any semblance of an emotion towards this tragic event.

    I’m not sure what you expect the police to do. I’m sure there’s a report; they don’t tend to blog their reports. It would be nice if they sent out details to the local newspapers, but it doesn’t seem that they have.

    I don’t understand what you mean by “There was enough thought to call in the ‘manpower’ but not enough to organize a safe plan of execution.” Manpower was called in for the rescue, which included me. I took on the role of IC, and safety was my responsibility. And indeed, the rescue was performed safely. If you mean planning safety for the “raid,” there was no raid. An officer drove up to see what was going on, and the kids scattered without thinking about the ramifications. There was no “operation,” no “raid,” no “action,” simply a “What’s this? I should stop and see what’s up.” -rc

  45. It was stated what is “believed” to have happened for the police to already have been on scene there were no definitives. All I would like and I speak for many others in the community is the chance to hear what the officers who were the first on the scene of the bonfire have to say and to take responsibility for at least some of the way these kids reacted. Yes each child made their own decision, the officers made their decisions as well and rather than seeing all blame placed on the kids I would like credit to go where credit is due.

    As I mentioned previously I appreciate all that everyone did in order for all of this to go smoothly but I am not a fan of biased media projection and as a result I would like to see what the original officers have to say. Not that I plan to place blame, but because there is a void in the story of officials prior to the actual rescue. I would like to hear what they have to say about their motives/choices/actions up to and including the rescue. Yes the focus is on how this girl was saved however I know of many wondering how this all came to be and where the other voices are of the officials involved.

    In short what I would have them do is to state how they approached the situation, how that choice will affect the way these situations are handeled in the future and how they plan to make a more positive impact on the lives of these kids rather than scaring them half to death (some very literally) and then disappearing into oblivion while these kids ultimately end up despising the lack of communication between public and authority. In the end these kids will (whether consciously or not) will decided that authority cannot be trusted to maintain safety and take responsibility when something doesn’t go 100% the way it was intended. If we want these kids to step up with integrity we all need to be the example and that is doubly so for those in positions of authority. If we can’t trust our leaders in the community what can we trust in and how can we expect these kids to take accountability when we won’t do it ourselves?

    You say you want the cops to “take responsibility for at least some of the way these kids reacted” and then you say you don’t “plan to place blame” on them. Seems contradictory to me. One can only take responsibility for one’s own actions, not the actions of others. The kids ran from the police, which almost always makes things worse. Why is there any surprise that something bad happened?

    As I’ve said in other responses, the particular cop involved is probably the most mellow cop I’ve ever met. I’m quite confident he didn’t rush in swinging a club, but rather stepped out of his pickup truck to ask “what’s going on this evening?” If that’s all it takes to cause an extreme reaction, that says nothing about him — only about the kids who ran. -rc

  46. Obviously, SJ is of the Obamaniac school of thinking. He seems to be saying that while the police were doing their job, they acted stupidly in not first surrounding the entire area and bubble-wrapping the rocks, trees, cliffs and other hazards so no kids would be hurt. After all, it is all the cops fault that therse teens decided to go out drinking illegally, consuming whatever other intoxicants were present and violating laws enacted for their very protection. The cops should have known they would run and get hurt.

    Just like that stupid cop in Cambridge who should have known a black man who the neighbors did not recognize as being the homeowner forgot his key and forced his way into his house in a manner similar to a burglar. The officer should have known and not have asked the man to identify himself with a validly issued government ID even though they have the authority to ask.

    Well, SJ, here’s a tip. Polcie departments across this country are CUTTING manpower. The area of this incident clearly has a small department to begin with. The only way to keep a large group of kids from scattering on the approach of the Police, especially when they are engaged in a knowingly illegal activity, is to form an impenetrable ring of humanity around them and slowly close ranks to contain them. Just from the photos, you would need the entire Marine Corps to form such an impenetrable ring at a proper distance to keep from tipping them off and causing them to run. And God knows, if the children run from their illegal activity, it is the lousy cop’s fault.

    SJ, you started off by making a very “minor” correction to Randy’s story. The operative word here in “MINOR” because that is exactly what this girl is, a minor. You point out that she is not 16 as Randy stated, but actually 15. So let’s ask the question that really SHOULD be running through everyone’s mind – WHERE ARE HER PARENTS? Or better yet, where the HELL are her parents???

    Were she my child, after her release from the hospital, she would be grounded for an indefinite time period and whenever she went out (school, work, etc.) would be very closely monitored whether accompanied on every step or by GPS monitors. And if she ever wanted to regain any semblance of freedom, she would be required to reveal to those lousy cops exactly who was at the bonfire, who supplied the intoxicants and provide testimony to ensure those persons were properly punished in the courts.

    Instead of wanting a police officer who puts his life on the line to protect you, this girl, all her idiot friends and every other citizen of the area as well as visitors, to take responsibility for this girl running off a cliff, demand the parents be held responsible. Rally the parents up to the party site so they can see just how dumb their kids can be and have them each pack a trash bag of the garbage left behind and carry it out to their homes. Maybe they will wake up and take responsibility to punish their children in a way they it gets through their thick teenaged skulls that they put their own lives in danger. Then each and every one, parents and children, should shake the Officver’s hand and thank him for doing his job and caring enough to take the initiative to stop the party before many others could likely have been hurt.

  47. Without knowing the details of the story, I can understand the curiosity of SJ,UT concerning the method of approach. Sure, I’ve already said that the major burden falls upon the kids, since they do control their own actions. However, there is some responsibility for the expected reactions of others. There are police in many localities that thoroughly enjoy stampeding the citizenry, of basking in the effect of their authority. Fortunately, 80% of most police do not abuse their authority.

    As I said, not knowing the details, I’ll go with Randy’s word that the incident was precipitated by a single cop (a mellow one, at that, who has no need to bask in his authority) who happened upon an unusual event. A stampede is not an expected reaction to a single investigator. Still, from the description, it was an isolated area, difficult to access, and begs the question why it was necessary to patrol or check it out in the first place. But even so, a single cop doing just that doesn’t justify a stampede in which someone nearly died.

    It would be interesting to see a cop’s point of view of the incident, just to get a mindset from authority of the situation. I can’t imagine that the local constabulary is subject to Omerta, the Code of Silence.

    And extremist kneejerk reactions are futile, whether “kids will be kids, so give ’em a break”, or “ground ’em all until they’re 40, because they BROKE the law!” Some will learn from this incident, while others never will, no matter what penalty, until it’s too late.

  48. A lot has been made by a few individuals about how the police approached the party. I easily understood that a single deputy arrived at the party while on routine patrol and got out of his car/truck to see what was going on. An act of either bravery or stupidity, as in many circumstances that would result in a dead deputy. It would not have been irresponsible for him to draw his duty weapon and hold it down to his side as he approached. A far more reasonable method which you no doubt would find even more inflammatory.

    And a lot has been made about the alcohol laws being flawed or even dangerous. Well, try looking in the mirror and you will see one of the people responsible for those laws. YOU elected the politicians who made those laws. The deputy and his counterparts all across the country swore an oath to uphold the laws. There is no clause that says “Officers may disregard any law that seems wrong or misguided in their opinion.”

    Then there’s the bit about why the kids ran from this single officer who approached their campfire, mostly of the argument that the kids were taught to be that way. Ummm, yeah. And teens always do what they are taught, right? The very act of running tells me that these teens are too immature to be drinking any alcoholic beverage.

    I suppose some may question where my proof comes from. Well, I’m the female voice on the other end of the 911 lines. In some jurisdictions there isn’t the budget to pay for a separate 911 operator and a radio dispatcher, so people like me deal with both the civilian on the phone and the officers in the field. We are personally involved with each and every incident that occurs. We do this day after day. The civilians on the line count on us to get the help they need to them as quickly as possible. The officers, firefighters, EMTs and ambulance personal count on us to provide the information that will enable them to do their jobs efficiently AND safely.

    The point to all of this is that we have a unique perspective. We see the civilian’s POV, and the officer in the field’s POV. If you do something stupid that puts your and the officer’s lives at risk, we know about it. And from my personal POV, the teens’ actions to subvert the law and then their attempt to avoid the nearly inevitable repercussions has no defense. Period.

    I carry a lot of memories from my job, but the one I remember best wasn’t even that big a deal when it was resolved. But I remember talking to a scared to death woman on 911, trying to calm her down and ensure her safety; and the relief and gratitude she felt when my officers arrived on scene and she knew she was safe. Those are the kind of days I lived for, the ones where my training and ability helped bring peace of mind to somebody. I got no awards, no medals. I got the best things I ever will get: a quiet “good job” from the relief dispatcher who was waiting to take over so I could go home, and a “Oh God, thank you, thank you so much! I didn’t know what to do but you were there and your voice was my lifeline!”

    I doubt very much the officer pulled his weapon, or even had his hand on it. And yeah: the dispatchers did a fantastic job during this incident: so much so that I wrote a letter to the dispatch center’s manager the next day to say so. She was quite grateful to receive it, and promised to share it with the dispatchers on duty that night. Public safety types in general are pretty well underappreciated — dispatchers all the more so. I wanted ours to know that they were a big part of the smoothness of that night’s operation. -rc

  49. Michael, Portland, OR said: “None of this would have happened if alcohol weren’t illegal for minors.”

    Amigo, you are so far wrong, you’re not even in the same zip code with right.

    The fault here lies squarely with the parents of every one of those kids. Those parents failed to teach their children how to be honorable, how to have integrity, how to be responsible and above all, how to use their brain to think with instead of taking it out and playing with it like Silly Putty.

  50. “The fault here lies squarely with the parents of every one of those kids.”

    And STILL it’s “somebody else’s fault…”?

    Many of these kids have parents who DID teach those values. Teaching someone does not mean they will learn or even believe. If booze were just laying around, maybe it might be someone else’s fault. But these kids had the forethought and cleverness to procure their own booze, and the willing decision to indulge, and THEN had the presence of mind to disperse because they KNEW they’d done wrong, so the responsibility lies PRIMARILY with them. Especially since they likely knew that they were in trouble mostly for violating parental teachings.

  51. Wow, I am amazed at the blame being passed around here. I’d be worried if my teens didn’t try and stretch their wings and try things, even if I thought them to be wrong. How else are the kids supposed to grow?

    While I agree the youngsters are going to have to accept responsibility for the decisions they made, blame? No. The blame game for this kind of thing is as stupid as ZT.

  52. Here we go again! I am a female not a guy and I am closer to these students and families than many others on here expressing their opinions. I work with troubled youth and I know there are ways to interact with them without causing a disturbance. Again I am not blaming tbw police nor am I blaming the kids I would just like the whole story rather then the experiences of the kids and the rescue team. I already have acknowledged my greatfulness for the rescue and continued safety of one of the greatest girls I have ever known. I am very interested in journalism and would like to hear the whole story from every perspective, no blame just responsibility for each individuals actions. I don’t believe this is unreasonable considering that these kids and the rescue team are willing to share their input on the event so why not get the point of view from the police on scene in between the beginning of chaos and the rescue of this girl?

    BTW I support who I support in the legislature and bashing me while bashing the president is not a bright thing to do considering that my position of support is unknown.

    It seems this blog comment has a theme, prejudice and the way that prejudice can effect the ability to communicate with others effectively.

    Now you’re being overly defensive. Yeah, Obama has nothing to do with this, and it was stupid to bring him in at any level. It wasn’t worthy of response, so I didn’t bother. -rc

  53. To clarify my response, I referred to Obama to draw the comparison of the current climate of knee jerk reaction where many people are not happy just blaming the “rotten cops” (no, not quoting anyone in particular — my own edited reference to myself and my brothers and sisters in blue. When I talk of lawyers, I say “rotten lawyers” too as I am about to become one.” Now cops (and lawyers) take the blame and are analyzed and criticized as Obama did in the Cambridge incident. I was not even trying to imply or infer that I know your political preference because nobody can really figure mine out (beyond my total distaste for the current occupant of the White House.)

    SJ, I apologize for using “he.” Perhaps “(s)he” would have made it clear that I did not know your gender. So sorry for assuming we, as a culture, have gotten past that worry of using the wrong pronoun when the gender of whom we are speaking is unknown. Since every document these days is accepted to mean the use of “he” or “she” includes any unidentified person of that class whose gender is unknown, I assumed that was understood.

    SJ, since you are interested in journalism, please be careful of what you say. I personally have had “journalists” write about incidents where I am the primary subject and I don’t recognize the incident at all. Also, knowing the words you use and their meaning is necessary.

    In this blog, there are many people not looking to place blame, just determine or assign responsibility. Your particular quote is “…no blame just responsibility for each individuals (SIC) actions.” Aside from punctuation errors, you should know the definition of “blame” as presented in Merriam Webster’s Dictionary is “a: to hold responsible (they blame me for everything) b: to place responsibility for (blames it on me).” Therefore, to seek responsibility clearly is to place blame.

    Your last comment, “It seems this blog comment has a theme, prejudice and the way that prejudice can effect the ability to communicate with others effectively.” seems to imply that I am prejudiced. Against whom?? Racial prejudice? Age prejudice? I don’t know the race of the individuals involved. And if you are referring to my reference to the President’s uninformed comments about the Police and trying to imply a racial prejudice, you are flat out wrong. My opinion of the man has absolutely nothing to do with his race and such an accusation is pure BS politics. I get highly offended anytime someone has to hide behind race just because someone else doesn’t like the ideas or ideals of another person. That is cowardice at its finest especially when you have no idea of my race.

    This whole “responsibility” game can be made very simple. The Police are hired, sworn and paid by the taxpayers to uphold and enforce the law and protect the law abiding citizens. They are forced to work with limited resources, limited manpower and a climate of “snitches get stitches” so the public they are trying to protect refuses to cooperate. Parents these days expect teachers, counsellers and the Police to raise their children. Not just teach them the 3 Rs, but to raise them, teach them all that used to be a parent’s job, and coddle them. When a child is involved with the police, it is always someone else’s fault and usually the Police get at least part of the blame. We have become a culture where NOBODY has ANY responsibility for their actions. And this includes a highly intelligent, well respected University Professor who happens to be admired by the President. Do you see the comparison now? Does this help you understand the correlation and the reference to Obama?

    The responsibility and/or blame lies squarely with the parents and the children involved. The parents should be involved and know what their children are up to and the children should be taught right from wrong.

    Placing any blame on the police here is like blaming any officer on the Dallas Police Department for allowing JFK to be shot because they didn’t know Oswald (or whoever pulled the trigger) was there, was armed and intended to pull the trigger.

    It is sad and unfortunate that a 15 year old girl was injured. But how about spend your energies finding some good instead of trying to find the fault that is staring you right in the face.

    This girl should heal. You have a police department out there trying their best to protect and serve. You have volunteers like Randy who get out of bed in the dark of night regardlerss of the weather and trek into the unknown, exposing themselves to danger you and most others flee from, to try to save lives and protect property. Thanks to his training, also voluntary, Randy commanded this incident with a precision that made the rescue successful and caused no further harm.

    Use her survival to inspire others who are injured by whatever means and encourage them to fight to recover. Use her injury to show other young people the hazards in breaking the law. It’s NOT just a citation. It’s not just getting arrested. It’s not just a hangover or the punishment their parents may dole out. There is a clear and present danger that, whether intoxicated or not, placing themselves in the situation could lead to many things they don’t think about. Included are the possibility they may panic and run off into the darkness — a darkness that may not have solid ground underfoot. A darkness that can kill.

    I am sorry if I offended you by anything I said and I am sure many will think I am doing exactly what Randy stated about you — being overly defensive. But I have my loyalties to my fellow Officers, firefighters, EMS and all who would heed the call to help their fellow man (and woman) and take great offense to those who would seek to shift the blame from the wrongdoers to those who seek to help. I’ve been in their shoes. I’ve earned the right to be defensive.

    I did at first think you might be overly defensive, but you pulled it out, in my opinion — on the whole you explained your position, rather than “defended” it, which I think adds to understanding, rather than just be whining or extraneous verbiage. Thanks! -rc

  54. I remember having parties in my youth at a local gravel pond. One night the cops showed up and ran through the trees, meanwhile one left his car running window down someone put it in gear and ended up in 30 feet of water. Hilarious seeing the light shining up from the bottom. So sorry for the youth in this story. But how fun would it be to see the car go off the cliff.

    We’re a small county, and can’t afford all the rescue equipment we need to save people’s lives. If some asshole destroyed a cop car for “fun”, that’d mean more money diverted from the things we need. With luck, the person who died as a result wouldn’t be a local, but a tourist from Idaho or something. Sound good? -rc

  55. “We did a ‘drunk driving crash’ scene for the schools, which students clearly found impressive (in the literal sense of that word). But it was 2-3 years ago, so it’s time to do it again. -rc”

    Just so you know, these drunk driving awareness courses you guys do, really don’t make a difference. Try to pay attention to the students in the crowd next time. All of them will have the same facial expression and nothing you tell them will really sink in. They don’t care what you have to say and no matter how much you try to scare them into doing something that is “wrong” the truth is, they are going to do it regardless. And if you think these courses are so important and helpful then why was the last time you had one possibly 3 years ago? That’s just pathetic.

    Those of you who don’t speak “Dumbass” might need a translation of what “anonomous” is saying. (First translation: he means “Anonymous”.) After years of being a medic who has saved countless dumbasses (not to mention what I do for a living, when not being a volunteer medic), I’ve learned enough to translate it quite well. He’s saying that crash scenes have no effect whatever on kids, and we would know that if we only looked at their unchanging faces. And because such displays don’t work, it’s “pathetic” that we volunteers haven’t taken time out of our lives to do one lately so the kids can get out of class for a couple of hours.

    Only one problem with “anonomous’s” contention: those faces in the crowds are far from stoic and unchanging. I know that for a fact: we have pictures of the last one. Ignoring the kids who are crying, even the guys who think they’re cool are obviously affected. In fact, every kid that has a modicum of intellectual ability (I know: it’s unlikely “anonomous” qualifies) is deeply affected by such scenes when done well, even if it doesn’t sink in right away. Of course we know that the kids who work really hard to be “cool” roll their eyes over it, but they’re still affected. Sometimes they’re even the ones who cry.

    Anonomous is wrong about something else important, too. This isn’t about being told what’s “wrong” — teens already know the difference between right and wrong — it’s showing them that laws really do apply to them too. I don’t just mean criminal laws (most of the “cool” jerks I knew in high school are in prison or on probation now, despite them being sure they could “get away with it” or that they didn’t have to abide by rules), but also the laws of physics that he ignored in science class: huge chunks of steel in cars get twisted in an instant, so is it any wonder that fragile bodies are torn apart?

    Yep, it is absolutely true that the stupid kids who become stupid adults “are going to do it regardless.” And they don’t just hurt themselves, but they take out other people in their stupidity. They kill our brothers, sisters, kids, parents, friends and neighbors because they’re too fucking selfish to realize how their actions affect others. And when their own brothers, sisters, kids, parents, friends and neighbors are killed, they demand action! Something must be done! Then they finish their drinks and drive home, too ignorant and stupid to realize what the real problem is.

    So, nice try, “anonomous,” but you’d need double the wit you possess to pull off what you attempted to do here. -rc

  56. In 1970, I first heard a song on the radio by an unknown group named Bloodrock. The song was “D.O.A.” The lyrics were chilling. (God in Heaven, teach me how to DIE!) No doubt many thought the song was just some cool stoner rock, but others were affected by the concept that cars are 2-ton killer machines that can easily separate life from a human being, and it can be a lonely, dragged-out, excruciatingly painful process. Not to mention the affect on the paramedics who have to try saving the victim as he’s inevitably dying.

    Here is an excellent video of the music that demonstrates the impact of alcohol in concert with that 2-ton machinery: D.O.A. ~ Bloodrock

    Yep: it doesn’t matter how badly you need help. It doesn’t matter how much it hurts. You will have to wait for someone to find the wreck, to call 911, for it to be dispatched, for the medics to arrive, for them to triage the scene, and then begin treatment. If you’re lucky, you’ll be in a jurisdiction that allows for proper pain control, and the medics there are trained to give it. It’s a cold brutal world, and we can only do what we can to save you from it. -rc

  57. I can only guess since I was not there, but I would expect that one reason the kids ran was that they were partying on a spot where there were “NO TRESPASSING” signs posted and, therefore, knew they were guilty of Trespassing (which is a crime) at the very least, whether they were drinking or not. Also, many kids today have grown up seeing the police as “the MAN” and the enemy.

    Someone commented on how the laws in other countries allow the sale of alcohol to 18-year-olds. We tried that in the US. Back in the ’70’s (shortly after the 26th Amendment to the US Constitution lowered the voting age to 18) there was a big push to lower the drinking age to 18 as well. I remember this because the law was changed in the state of Alabama when I was 12 years old — 1975 — and my sister had just turned 19. Alabama only lowered the legal age to 19, not 18 like most other states, and even today it is not legal to sell cigarettes or tobacco products to anyone under the age of 19 in Alabama whereas it is 18 in every other state.

    In the early ’80’s the authorities noticed an alarming increase in the number of alcohol-related deaths, primarily the result of drunk driving, that were occurring in the 18-21 age range. The US Congress passed legislation around 1983 that basically gave the individual states a choice — they could raise their drinking ages back to 21 or they could forfeit their Federal Highway Funds. I was in college when this change came about and as I recall, everyone who was already 19 (this was Alabama) when the law took effect was grandfathered in but anyone who was under 19 had to wait until their 21st birthday to be ‘legal.’

    Randy, I always enjoy reading stories of your rescues like this and wish to thank you for spending the time, money and energy to train for and respond like this. The pictures in this blog also gave it more of a feel like we were actually there.

    Glad you found it of interest and/or enlightenment. -rc


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