For Alameda city officials to leave the investigation of Raymond Zack’s death in the hands of but one for-profit individual is a mistake, no matter who it is.
I would have thought the City would convene a Blue Ribbon panel including a doctor and a non-fire EMT (hypothermia treatment algorithms are actually different for treatment in the field vs by medical personnel), those trained in suicide talk-down: a minister, a psychologist, a suicide prevention counselor. At least one of these should be an Alameda resident of a few years. I’d be surprised if qualified volunteers could not be found if only the City put out the call for them. It should also include representatives from not only the Alameda Police and Fire Departments, but also include representatives from other first responders, namely USCG, EBRPD, ACFD, OFD, OPD; because they actually DID interface w/Alameda units during this tragedy & can be expected to do so in the future.
A large part of the problem was inability to communicate effectively. Alameda police & fire quite simply did not even seem to know how to ask for help! They failed to convey to mutual aid the urgency of the matter, confusing the terms “rescue” & “recovery” at one point making Mr. Zack’s death a fait accompli before he reached shore. If this investigation is conducted by only one person, a golden teaching moment will be missed though which Alameda police & fire could learn from feedback from the mutual aid around them how to bring a rescue to a more acceptable conclusion.
Mutual aid is an agreement among emergency responders to lend assistance across jurisdictional boundaries.
– Carol Gottstein, MD, Alameda