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Heres the scene. It was an overcast day in southern England last March. That is to say, a normal day in southern England.
Attempting to retrieve something that had blown into the water, 41-year old Simon Burgess slipped and fell into a 3 1/2 foot-deep pond. He then suffered a seizure. His body, lying motionless and face down in the water, was spotted at 12:15pm by a witness who immediately called 999 emergency services (like 911).
Within five minutes, emergency crews began arriving. Then more. Then more. 36-minutes after the initial phone call, no fewer than 25 emergency workers were at the scene. They brought out a state of the art emergency medical tent, resuscitation equipment, several fire engines, ambulances, and specialty dive gear.
For more than thirty minutes, emergency crews set up a complex operations center. Fire fighters positioned their trucks. Police officers cordoned off the area for crowd control. Water Support Unit officers donned protective gear and checked the pond for underwater hazards.
Yet with all of this commotion, nobody bothered to fetch Mr. Burgess. For 36-minutes, he floated in the center of the pond, face down, while dozens of first responders scurried about with their make work projects.
Why? Because they hadnt been trained and certified by their various government agencies to enter water that was more than ankle deep. According to the UKs Daily Mail,
When a policeman decided to go in anyway, he was ordered not to. A paramedic was also told not to enter the water because he didnt have the right protective clothing and might be in breach of the Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992.
And so, the emergency crews stood by waiting until a specialty team arrived, donned protective gear, and waded into the waist-deep water (at maximum depth) to retrieve Mr. Burgess. Needless to say, doctors formally pronounced him dead by the time his body arrived to the hospital, roughly 90-minutes after he fell in the lake.