Do The Right Thing

I know…it sounds obvious. It also sounds deceptively easy. But it’s not.

When we accept a job as an emergency responder we need to be willing to commit ourselves to doing the right thing, even when it’s hard. Even when the policy manual says we should do the wrong thing. Even when our protocols say we should do the wrong thing. Even when our supervisor says we should do the wrong thing.

Florida lifeguard Thomas Lopez was called to help a drowning man just outside the ropes of his designated swim beach. When he responded, he found the man being assisted by other beach-goers. He rendered aid until an ambulance arrived while other lifeguards watched his station.

When he was finished, he was fired on the spot. Apparently, Lopez company is only paid to guard the swim area.

There are some parts of our job that we can’t allow boundaries to be placed around. Preservation of life is one of those duties that isn’t limited by policy, procedures or district boundaries. This isn’t about the legal duty to act. This is about your moral duty to act.

I’d like to know what you think about that.


  1. I would have done the same thing. I am not a robot! It’s in my DNA to help people in medical, physical distress. The company that fired this guy should be ashamed of themselves! Although I don’t know all the details, if he saw someone in trouble he did te right thing as long as his area was covered and safe

  2. Wihtut going long into specifics, when I was young, my grandfather and I were in a situation that was uncomfortable. He was a well respected man in the community and could have avoided it. When I asked him why he didn’t he told me. “Always do what you know to be the right thing. Sometimes it can be difficult, even cause you hardships. Do it anyway. Always.” It stuck, has stayed with me throughout my life and my career. Come to think of it maybe it’s what brought me to this career.

  3. Wow, well the company obviously hired Mr. Lopez for his ability to swim, and his first aid skills. Not to just soak up the sun! They fired him for doing exactly what they hired him to do. I could understand if there was no one wathching his post, but it was not abandoned. He probably saved the company a lawsuit. The headline would read ” Life Gaurd with XXXX company, allows swimmer in distress to drowned”. I would have gone across the boundaries as well.