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  • What do you do in this situation?

    A friend of mine sent me this story about a little incident that happened in my corner of the country last week. Sorry about the links if they don't work, the posting screen wasn't working too well.

    http://www.katu.com/home/video/51803...?video=pop&t=a

    Let me give the quick run down:

    Fire department responds to EMS call
    Man laying on couch in apartment building lobby complaining of headache.
    FD personnel arrive and begin evaluation of pt.
    Bystander in the lobby becomes increasingly hostile and verbally abusive towards FD personnel
    Situation quickly deteriorates, firefighters make the choice to tackle bystander and restrain him.
    Lt. delivers a few kicks with the boot in the process of holding him down.


    Obviously a situation none of us want to be involved in.

    My question is, what do you do in a situation like this? Do you take action against a hostile person, who could be potentially endangering your crew and patient?

    The FF's in this situation really didn't have time to wait for LEO's and went ahead and took action. Does your department offer you any protection in this kind of situation?



    Here is the "full" story:

    http://www.katu.com/home/video/51805...?video=YHI&t=a

    PORTLAND, Ore. - The Portland Fire Bureau has pulled one of its most experienced firefighters off the streets after the man was caught on tape, involved in a confrontation between a citizen and several firefighters.

    The video was recorded early Thursday morning at a downtown Portland apartment building and shows a Portland Fire Bureau lieutenant kicking a man who was being held down on the ground.

    The man who was kicked does admit that he was being verbally abusive toward the firefighters. The video of the confrontation is sending shock waves through the Portland Fire Bureau.

    The surveillance video shows Terry DeGeorge walking through his apartment building's lobby where firefighters are helping someone on a couch who is complaining of a headache. Here is an account of what happened next:

    DeGeorge walks in and out of the lobby. The tape does not have any sound, but DeGeorge admits he was annoyed that the firefighters were there. "My rage led to the fireman's rage," he said. "I was loud, probably at a time that I shouldn't have been."
    DeGeorge argues with a firefighter, Lieutenant Robert Bedgood.
    DeGeorge walks back out the door, then stops, turns around and starts shouting at Bedgood.
    A few words are exchanged and then another firefighter grabs DeGeorge.
    The two struggle. This lasts for several seconds as other firefighters help force DeGeorge to the ground.
    DeGeorge struggles to stand up, but you never see him strike another firefighter.
    It takes about 20 seconds for the firefighters to pin DeGeorge to the ground.
    Then Bedgood steps in and kicks DeGeorge three times. "The kicking was unnecessary," DeGeorge said. "Maybe in their minds it wasn't. I don't know."
    DeGeorge spoke to KATU News in the same lobby where the struggle happened. He had injuries on his face and bruises on his legs and arms. He said he may have been loud and intimidating, but he did not deserve the treatment he got. "Everybody has a bad day," he said. "I wasn't having a good one. Maybe a couple of those guys weren't either."

    Firefighters have a copy of the tape and Bedgood is no longer on the street. He is now working a desk job.

    When KATU News asked Lt. Allen Oswalt with the Portland Fire Bureau whether he could envision a circumstance where it would be OK for a firefighter to tackle somebody who had not assaulted anyone, he said "there are ways to verbally intimidate or verbally assault people. I don't know what was going on. We do have eyewitness reports of the language that was used and some of the things that were said."

    The incident is under investigation by the Portland Police Bureau. According to an initial police report, DeGeorge was cussing and firefighters felt threatened by him.




    Here is the Portland Fire and Rescue press release:

    This is a press release courtesy of the Portland Fire Bureau

    Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R) has begun the investigation into the incident that occurred Wednesday, January 11th, at the Fairfield Hotel, involving firefighters and a bystander at the scene of an emergency medical response.

    At the direction of Fire Chief Dave Sprando and with the support of Fire Commissioner Erik Sten, PF&R's Deputy Fire Chief will lead the investigation, assisted by PF&R's Chief Investigator. PF&R has requested that Portland Police conduct independent interviews of witnesses, and has also enlisted the help of the City of Portland's Bureau of Human Resources.

    "I am confident in the steps Chief Sprando is taking to address this situation," Sten says. "He has acted quickly, appropriately, and he is making good decisions."

    The officer involved in the incident has been detailed to non-emergency response duties until the investigation is completed.

    "As Fire Chief, my first priority is to protect the safety of both our citizens and firefighters," Sprando says. "To that end, PF&R is working collaboratively with Commissioner Sten's office in our approach to get answers and resolve this situation."

    Chief Sprando also emphasized that the men and women of Portland Fire & Rescue are dedicated, compassionate professionals who truly care about the community they serve. "I have experienced this commitment for many years," he says, "And I want to ensure it continues for many more years to come."

    On Wednesday, January 11th, at 12:15 am, Firefighters from Portland Fire & Rescue responded to a call for medical assistance at the Fairfield Hotel. When firefighters arrived they began treating the patient in the lobby. An altercation occurred, that involved an individual not associated with the original call for assistance.
    All of the circumstances, of the event, are not known at this time.

    The Fire Chief initiated an investigation as soon as we became aware of the incident, at about 3:30, Wednesday afternoon. Portland Fire & Rescue takes any type of incident like this extremely seriously and is committed to determining all the facts that will lead to a fair and thorough investigation.

    The investigation will proceed as rapidly as possible. There appears to be a large number of witnesses to the incident, and other records including PPB reports, all of which will have an effect on the time it takes to complete the investigation. No personnel action has been taken at this time although, if warranted, action will be initiated as the facts become apparent.




    I personally don't feel sorry for the guy at all who they tackle. He got what was coming. I just started wondering though what the rest of us do in this situation. I worry about liability getting in the way of making the choice to protect fellow FF's.

  • #2
    I'm sure this thing will take off, but without having audio, or knowing anything about the apartment building, or part of town, one can't fairly second guess what happened. Just from watching, I could see how one could feel threatened by the person's actions, body language, and his apparent lack of caring about that being an emergency scene. It could have gone bad for the first responders real quick.
    Bill Geyer
    Engine 27
    Memphis F.D.

    Comment


    • #3
      I love the uninvolved ******* with something to say. I wonder what the police did when they showed up? I would guess here the dummy would have been taken to the lock up to cool down. He had no reason to be there interfering with fire department operations and the cops should have locked him up if he didn't dummy up and leave.
      I am a complacent liability to the fire service

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by ChicagoFF View Post
        I love the uninvolved ******* with something to say. I wonder what the police did when they showed up? I would guess here the dummy would have been taken to the lock up to cool down. He had no reason to be there interfering with fire department operations and the cops should have locked him up if he didn't dummy up and leave.
        At the end of the surveillance video two officers do show up and cuff the guy and drag him out of the lobby. The media of course doesn't want to even talk about whether or not he got in trouble for it. In this area we have very anti-police media coverage. Everytime there is an officer involved shooting there is outrage. And of course I think this time around the FD is getting the exact kind of coverage.

        *Note that the first footage actually shown in the broadcast story is just a clip of the Lt. workin the guy with his boot. They just happen to conveniently leave out the lead up to the incident.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by ChicagoFF View Post
          I love the uninvolved ******* with something to say. I wonder what the police did when they showed up? I would guess here the dummy would have been taken to the lock up to cool down. He had no reason to be there interfering with fire department operations and the cops should have locked him up if he didn't dummy up and leave.
          Hey Chicago what do you think the boys at E-117, TL-14 and A-15 would have done here? Probably more than a boot!

          Comment


          • #6
            Wtf?

            Here's my take as a FF/Medic, then LEO, and back to FF/Medic.

            I personally belive that there are some people out there who only understand an *** kicking and I hate some loudmouth who talks **** and interferes while you are trying to work, just as much as the next guy does. And I have really wanted to kick some idiots *** more than once, just like the next guy.

            The issue here is the word 'restrain". If this guy was enough of a threat (verbal or physical) that the FF's felt they had to take action to protect themselves and their patient prior to the arrival of LEO, then the restraint was most likely justified and would probably hold up in a court or an investigation. It definately should only be a last resort action used for the safety of the crew and patient.

            The key (even for LEO) is minimum force necessary to control the situation. Even though this guy was obviousely a freak for getting ****ed off at firefighters working in a public lobby, this Lt. appears to have gone way beyond the minumum force rule when by all accounts the man was already restrained. I would not want to be the one who let my emotions get ahead of me and end up driving a desk saying "Wow, I f***ed up".

            I wasn't there and there is no audio so we don't know how much or fast this was escalating but you can't use "I feared for my life, my crew or my patient" when several other people already have the offender restrained. Hopefully there is more to this than a lapse of judgment.

            I also hope the Lt. does not have a wife and kids if he is fired. How much do you think this going to cost the city? What about the separate civil suit the guy can file against the Lt.? Thats just the $$$ considerations.
            Last edited by FireDoc99; 01-15-2007, 02:41 PM. Reason: Not done

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by BostonJake2340 View Post
              Hey Chicago what do you think the boys at E-117, TL-14 and A-15 would have done here? Probably more than a boot!
              The old west side pumpkin head deluxe. He would be lucky if the firemen handled it and not the cops. The cops don't have the reputation of being overly delicate here!
              I am a complacent liability to the fire service

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by FireDoc99 View Post
                Hopefully the Lt. does not have a wife and kids. I think they have enough to fire his butt and rightfully so. How much do you think this going to cost the city? What about the separate civil suit the guy can file against the Lt.? Thats just the $$$ considerations. He definately did nothing to help his departments reputation.
                Ahhh, it's good to see guys looking out for each other and keeping their priorities straight. Well, it least you are up front with your feelings. Most guys would be ashamed to say in public that a brother deserves to be fired for doing his job under difficult circumstances.
                I am a complacent liability to the fire service

                Comment


                • #9
                  I've been waiting for this story to make an appearance here. I live in this city and had a bad feeling when they first aired it almost a week ago. I was actually surprised that it didn't hit the national press....they thrive on these types of "outrages."

                  Without audio, it's tough to comment on this. Not being there and not knowing what was said, it's impossible to judge these guys. On one hand, BSI/Scene Safe....if the scene becomes unsafe, call for assistance, move away. On the other hand, if being attacked and defense is the only option, you gotta do what you gotta do to get you and your crew home safe.

                  I've watched this video several times in the last week....and it doesn't appear that the guy ever threw a punch or physically attacked anyone. However, he did get in that LT's face after a couple "drive-by" comments....and obviously, the FF who jumped in felt that their safety was in imminent danger and they had no other option. But again, w/o hearing what was being said, it's impossible to know. FWIW, in one of the articles I read about it, one of the other tenants said that guy that was taken down is notorious for being loud, rude and obnoxious.

                  As for the kicking....unfortunately, I think that's going to be a problem for that LT no matter what anyone says/thinks. As posted above, whenever there is a police shooting in Portland, justified or not, there is always a huge public outcry against the police. It's really unbelievable. They've scapegoated cops several times here.....and I think the public pressure to "punish" this LT will be strong. I just hope that this has no lasting effects on this crew.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Just last week, our EMS agency had a person "get unruly" with them. The EMS team left the room and notified PD. PD came and arrested the person.

                    IMO, if you feel threatened, you do what you need to protect yourself and your crew. It may mean leaving the area, it may mean physical confrontation.

                    As for kicking him when he was down...well, wasn't there so it may/may not be justified. Lot would depend on how well he was being held down and whether he was "getting out of" the hold down.
                    "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Your right

                      Originally posted by ChicagoFF View Post
                      Ahhh, it's good to see guys looking out for each other and keeping their priorities straight. Well, it least you are up front with your feelings. Most guys would be ashamed to say in public that a brother deserves to be fired for doing his job under difficult circumstances.
                      I made my comment before considering that there was no audio on the video and most importantly that the investigation is not done. I did go back and edit my post after I put my brain back in gear. I do hope they clear this guy and teach the idiot who was running his mouth a lesson. O.k... another lesson, he wont talk **** to the FD anymore!

                      I was actually thinking ahead to what should happen if there is no doubt and it is definitley in the best interest of the department. Which was not fair to the Lt. and I apologize for that.

                      I do have to stand my ground that even though we work in an underpaid under appreciated career, no matter how difficult, we still have a responsibility to act professionaly and keep things at the lowest possible level.
                      There's a reason I only worked LEO for 11 months before I came back from the dark side.....

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by feedtheflame View Post
                        *Note that the first footage actually shown in the broadcast story is just a clip of the Lt. workin the guy with his boot. They just happen to conveniently leave out the lead up to the incident.
                        Of course, you don't think they are gonna portray the city in a good light do ya? Whether they were right or wrong in their actions it's no different than the way they treat the police or military. It's one sided reporting. The side that sells a story.

                        Just like the old qoute says "in war the first thing to go is the truth". Just change the first three words to read "in selling papers and news stories"....
                        They'll give just enough to get the publics attention and they don't care what the fallout is after that.

                        You can bet they will run it into the ground if it does'nt work out for the Lt. If they clear him I bet it will only get stuffed in the back of the newspaper and maybe 15 seconds on tv.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by ChicagoFF View Post
                          The old west side pumpkin head deluxe. He would be lucky if the firemen handled it and not the cops. The cops don't have the reputation of being overly delicate here!
                          We call it Dorchester Karate or the Southie Shuffle!

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I'm not the most experienced one here, but I know that I've never received any "use of force" training and I doubt that any other ff on this forum has either. In other words, I don't think that the city should in the rare case of a ff having to forcefully restrain someone, hold that ff to the same standard as a LEO who has received hundreds of hours of training on when and how to use force.

                            Also, has anybody figured out why that idiot was "outraged" that there were ffs in his building?

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Without actually being there all we can do is interact with what we know from the articles. Unless there was a potential weapon, no one should be kicked once on the ground. If there were 2 firefighters "restraining" him and they needed assistance, then someone else should have piled on. But as someone stated, unless you were trained to deal with this type of situation with less then deadly/pain compliance tactics, how could you blame anyone.

                              I do not believe he should be fired. Admonished yes, this will appease the liberals and the crowds of johnny come latelys. It also sets a record in the event something of this type of behavior arises again.

                              Comment

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