SUNSET CLIFFS, CA. About a week ago, on October 14th, a young man had to be rescued off of the cliffs. The cliffs are Sunset Cliffs, south of OB proper.
The rescue of somebody, whether they are plucked from the ocean, rappelled from the cliffs, carried out of the danger zones is not a new occurrence for these beautiful but dangerous cliffs. Over the years, many people have had to be rescued from either the ocean below or the cliffs themselves.
The guy who got stuck had been surfing and tried to come ashore at high tide and couldn’t make it up the cliffs. So, the Lifeguards were called. Emergency responders were dialed up and their assistance was urgently requested.
It is reported to us by a witness that four (4) police cars showed up. So did an ambulance. Plus three (3) lifeguards arrived. And to top it off, a fire truck made a show.
Cops, para-medics, lifeguards and firefighters showed up to rescue one guy.
This particular guy’s dilemma – we don’t know his name or how exactly he came to be stuck between a rock and a hard place – raises some interesting questions:
Who pays for cliff rescues?
The answer is obvious. We do, the people, the tax payers, our government.
Yet, in this time of the Great Recession, as government services and personnel are being cut back – this question may take on a new meaning.
Due to the number of first responders that showed up – this guy cost us quite a bundle – in terms of personnel time and resources. These are labor costs and equipment expenditures.
He was not arrested. And luckily for him – and us – he was not hospitalized.
Should this guy be charged for all that he forced on the rest of us in terms of having to spend our decreasing funds on him?
Or, is this part of the social contract that our government and its personnel have with the public, the people, us- the “we” in “We the People”? Do we have a right to be rescued if it is in the power of governmental services? Do life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness allow us to be rescued off the cliffs without sanction? What do you think?
There weren’t even lifeguards at OB beaches until one tragic day many moons ago – during World War I – when over a dozen military personnel perished by drowning in one incident as they attempted to walk from South Mission Beach to Ocean Beach.
Lifeguards at the beaches make many rescues every day during the hot months. People rescued then are not billed. It is a service they we the people have agreed to provide to our fellow citizens. And rightly so.
But are cliff rescues different? They cost a whole helluva lot more. Particularly this one – as it drew not just a singular lifeguard but over a dozen of public servants just trying to do their job. If they have one.