According to the Alameda County Fire Department, County rescue boats stand ready in San Leandro, but contrary to an Alameda Police Department press release earlier this week, Alameda public safety officials never asked for them to be dispatched in response to the successful apparent suicide attempt by Raymond Zack at Robert Crown Memorial Beach on Monday. Zack died after wading into, and standing for over an hour in, the cold Bay waters off Crown Memorial Beach.
A press release from the Alameda Police Department on Tuesday stated:
“Other agencies contacted for assistance with the water rescue included the Alameda County Fire Department, Oakland Fire Department, Alameda County Sheriff’s Department, the Oakland Police Department, and the East Bay Regional Park Police District. These agencies were unable to provide any additional rescue capabilities.”
However, a June 1 release from Alameda County Fire Department (ACFD) Chief Shelden Gilbert stated that Alameda authorities never asked the county fire department to respond. In the release, Chief Gilbert stated:
Based on the types of questions and comments we have received, I would like to clarify the following:
- The ACFD was not requested by the Alameda Fire Department to respond to the drowning incident at Crown Beach in Alameda on Monday, May 30, 2011.
- The ACFD has a well-equipped and staffed water rescue program. There are currently two trailered, response ready rigid hull rescue boats in service in San Leandro, one at Station 11 at 14903 Catalina and one at Station 10 at 2194 Williams. Both rescue boats are equipped with state-of-the-art navigation, communication and rescue equipment. Personnel assigned to these stations are trained regularly and are capable of providing water rescue services to the Marina and the bay at large. In addition, the ACFD has two smaller rescue inflatable boats that can also be dispatched to the Marina and bay. Traditionally, a water rescue response at the Marina and/or the bay includes two engines, two rescue boats and a Battalion Chief at minimum.
Dave Lord, Deputy Chief of the Alameda County Fire Department told Action Alameda News that during the first call from the Alameda Police Department, Alameda police asked the County to dispatch Alameda Fire Department boats located in Alameda. The Alameda Fire Department boats – one for fire fighting, one for rescue – have been out of service for over two years. (The Alameda County Fire Department dispatch unit handles the dispatch of all firefighter equipment in Alameda County.) The County dispatcher advised Alameda police that the Alameda-based boats were not in service, but that there was a boat in San Leandro; Alameda police did not request this boat to be dispatched to Crown beach.
In a second call, Alameda police asked if the San Leandro boat was on the water, and the response was “no.” Again, Alameda police did not request the boat to be dispatched. On one of these calls, Alameda police also confirmed with the County dispatch center that the United States Coast Guard had been called.
Lord explained that the County dispatch center cannot dispatch equipment without a specific request – to do so might make unavailable equipment needed for another call when it hasn’t been explicitly requested. He also said that the County publishes a list of available equipment countywide each day at 10:00 a.m.
Action Alameda News made a request to Acting City Manager Lisa Goldman to get clarification on the discrepancy between the City and County press releases and for a copy of call logs or other evidence that Alameda public safety officials requested assistance from the Alameda County Fire Department. With that request, we forwarded a copy of the Alameda County Fire Department press release. As of press time, she had not responded. However, after that request was made, Deputy Chief Lord called Action Alameda News back to say that Alameda police had contacted him to say that they have realized that their press release was in error, and acknowledge that they never requested assistance from the County, and that they would be calling the media to make a correction.
As of press time, Action Alameda News had not heard from Alameda police regarding a correction to their original release.